Year: 2010

Our Voices blog

Part 10: There’s A Place for Us

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 2010 The girl became my wife. Sixteen years after we first met, Alison and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are proud parents of two wonderful boys. Two years ago, we were legally married in her parents’ backyard, surrounded by our closest friends and family. We had the unique joy of sharing that milestone with our children. ~~~ In 1997, the military discharged me without any characterization—meaning, neither honorable nor dishonorable....


Part Nine: The Story

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Whoa! That’s my life, not news. Don’t print it. But the school newspaper reporter argues: “We’re going to, with or without your consent. Your story is important to the debate about ROTC’s presence on campus in view of the school’s nondiscrimination policy.” Okay, I’ll give you the story, but I need some time to tell my family first. ~~~ How can I tell my Vietnamese family that their daughter is gay AND an utter failure? One or the other would be hard...


Analysis of Ninth Circuit Oral Argument in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (Federal Prop 8 Challenge)

Today was the long-awaited oral argument at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal court challenge to Proposition 8. The Ninth Circuit is the federal appeals court that covers California. Today’s argument was heard by a panel of three judges, who will decide whether to uphold District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s August ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. The argument ran for almost two and a half hours, covering two basic questions: Do the proponents of...


Part Eight: The Trial

By Huong Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1995 I’m at my Army Reserve unit, in a windowless, closet-sized conference room. The walls are painted mustard yellow. The florescent lights, unnaturally bright. A small, government-issued table, with four chairs, sits in the middle of the room. I’m in a chair facing the door. I don’t want anyone to approach me from behind. I’m in fight mode. It started a month ago. I can recall the events with a searing clarity.  ~~~ There is a movie scene in “A Few...


Part Seven: The Truth Will Set You Free

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1995 After an hour and a half of grilling me about my relationship with a male cadet, the major allows me to leave. “Aaarrrggghhh!” I let out a roar from the depths of my soul. I’m crazy mad and full of adrenaline. I want to bite the major’s head off, chew it up, and spit it on the ground. The bastard! How could he do that to me? I have worked so hard for this place. When I get back to my dorm room, the girl is there. One look at me, and she keeps...


Part Six: No Air

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1995 My American dream is turning into a nightmare. I’m sitting in a major’s office, being grilled about an alleged “interpersonal problem” with a male cadet. A few days ago, that cadet and I had a knock-down, drag-out argument in front of the entire battalion. It was over his refusal to follow orders to prepare for a field training exercise. I couldn’t let his challenge of my authority go unchecked in front of everyone. But that’s insubordination,...


Part Five: The Girl

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1995 Oh. My. God! The girl, she’s in my bed. How did this happen? ~~~ I first met her several months ago in 1994. We worked in the same dormitory— I, a resident assistant, she, a program assistant. She was shy and quiet, at least around me. I paid little attention to her, because we didn’t work directly together. Until one day, she rocked my world, literally. She made an announcement at our weekly dormitory staff meeting. “Hi, everyone. We’re...


Part Four: The Education of Private Nguyen

By Huong Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1994 “Gaydar? What’s that?” They smile knowingly, my dormitory co-workers. “The camos and boots are part of my job. Look, I have long curly hair. I wear makeup, dresses, high heels. And, I’m engaged to marry a dude.” Now giggling, they claim gaydar is more than that—it detects an aura, a quality. I throw up my hands sarcastically, “Yup, that explains it all.” We had just spent the entire afternoon learning about gay culture. The purpose of the class...


Part Three: A New Identity

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1994 How lucky am I? A little over two years ago, I was up a creek without a paddle. No money for school, no way to get out of town, no escape from my family dysfunction. Today, I’m living my American dream. The one I’ve been yearning for since leaving Vietnam for the land of opportunity. Of course, it’s not the rags-to-riches-Hollywood-movie kind. Or an awe-inspiring-Nobel-Peace-Prize kind. My dream is modest, like most. But the best part is that...


Part Two: Light Bulb

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1992 It’s my senior year of high school, and this Army recruiter comes on campus. He’s targeting jocks, so he says, and tells me that he could make my dreams come true. Yeah, right. But I was curious. That’s how I found myself sitting in his office, listening to his pitch. “You could explore the world. Meet new people. Do exciting, honorable work. Develop discipline and confidence while you’re at it. And, we’d pay for your education.” Unreal....


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