LGBTQ+ Pride Month: Andrew Saetern

Andrew Saetern

1. What is your lgbtq status and would you briefly explain it for those who may not be familiar? Gay- That means I’m a dude who happens to like dudes, and I was totally Born This Way. 2. What does the term “come out of the closet” mean to you? To me, coming out of the closet means being authentic to yourself and those around you. It means being vulnerable and courageous enough to allow others around you to see who you truly are. I’ve learned, over the years, that “out of the closet” means different things to different people. Maybe they’re out only to friends, or with friends and coworkers but not family, etc. I understand that we’re all in different places in life and trying to balance our sexual identity with all of our other obligations and responsibilities. I’ll never know what someone else is going through, even someone who identifies as gay. 3. What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself? This is a tough one. I think I would encourage myself to set goals and reach for the stars. Fear was a huge setback for me. While I may have appeared to be an extrovert, I think that I lived much of my childhood in fear. I was always afraid of friends and family finding out about my sexuality. I can honestly say that I’ve known that I was attracted to the same sex as early as 12 years old. While I never acted on it, I always knew. This was the fear that I lived with every day. There were many nights where I went to sleep wishing and hoping that I will wake up straight the next morning. 4. What, if any cultural difficulties do you face and how do you think it should be addressed? I think that generational gaps and language barrier are the biggest contributors to the lack of understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ individuals in the Mien community. However, the Mien community is like many others. When more Mien “come out”, the more accepting our community will be. We’ve seen this type change around the world; i.e. more racially and ethnically diverse communities, women’s rights, same-sex marriage, etc. People are often closed off and disinterested about an issue until it directly involves someone they know. I’m lucky, I know that. My parents are both very understanding and supportive. My mom and I have an incredible relationship. I love that I can talk to her about anything, even dating and sex. She was surprised when I first came out, but that initial shock didn’t last very long. I remember my dad giving me a big hug, and he told me that he still loved me. I’ll always remember that. The rest of my family have been just as supportive and understanding over the years. 5. What is one event that helped shape your life? College had such a positive impact on my life. The entire learning process wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without these experiences. In my last year of college, I had the opportunity to teach English in Arequipa, Peru. I spent 3 months teaching English to a 3rd and 4th grade class, in a very poor area of Arequipa. I was fortunate enough to live with a host family in the city center but took public transportation every morning to a town and back to the city after the school day. I remember meeting these children, and wondered how I would cope with these smelly, filthy kids. Within days, I realized that those things didn’t matter. All I wanted was to help them create a better life. These kids didn’t have toys or electronics. They wore the same uniforms every day. They often came to school hungry. BUT- They were the happiest kids I’ve ever met. It was during this time that I realized my passion for public service. It was this life changing experience that motivates me to give back to the different communities around me and to dedicate the rest of my life to serving our youth. I truly believe that our youth are the future. They will forever have my support. 6. What is an accomplishment you are proud of? Overcoming adversity is not easy. I feel like I’ve spent much of my life trying to prove myself to my family. I can’t say that there were expectations from them, but it was pressure that I placed on myself. That I wanted to do well in life so that I can help them and others. I wanted to be the first person in the family to go to college, and I did that. I wanted to travel around the world, I’ve been doing that. One of my greatest accomplishments was when I joined the Army Reserves a few years after graduating from college. Basic training was probably one the hardest things I’ve had to endure. Trying to balance between a civilian career and the expectations of the Army is often stressful. I’m at a point in my life where I can honestly say that I’m very content. I have a great job in the consulting industry and an interesting military job as a paralegal in the JAG Corps. I’m in a position where I can continue to help underserved and underrepresented communities using resources available to me at work. I can buy a house this year! 7. Lastly, we’d like to give you an opportunity to say something, anything you like. Be kind and compassionate. Treat others well. You never know what people are going through. Ask questions and show an interest. First impressions are often wrong. You’ll be surprised by the impact that you can have on someone else’s life, or the impact someone can have on you. Live, Love, Matter. 8. This is optional. For those interested, we can include your social media contacts at the bottom of the post. Facebook: Andrew Saetern Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=ofeLGyYo5yACoVzahgExZg (Food Critic Status aka Yelp Elite) IG: Thedrewdogshow


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