This ‘powerful’ dad wants to protect his queer son. And the story went viral.

Trung Le Nguyen and his smiley dad are one photogenic pair hailing from Minnesota.

Photo courtesy of Trung Le Nguyen.

But as happy as they are, Nguyen's father is a worry wart, just like many parents.

He's probably a bit more on the extreme side compared to other moms and dads, though. When you learn their family story, it makes a lot of sense.


In a tweet that's now been shared and liked thousands of times, the 27-year-old published screengrabs from a Facebook post he made in 2012. And in the old post, Nguyen gives some backstory on his relationship with his dad, and why it is the way it is.

As Nguyen explains in the old post, his mom and dad emigrated from Vietnam in the early '90s.

Nguyen was born in a refugee camp in the Philippines before his family came to the U.S. in 1992. Speaking little English and starting from scratch in a totally new culture, the young couple had to find a way to make ends meet in their new home of Minnesota.

Photo courtesy of Trung Le Nguyen.

But after the family had settled in to their new American home and began feeling more comfortable, a teenaged Nguyen delivered some news that ... complicated things.

Nguyen came out to his parents as queer.

“They reacted with a lot of fear," Nguyen wrote. "I initially misinterpreted that fear as homophobia — that they didn’t understand or were afraid of my sexual orientation. As it turns out, they were just reacting out of fear for my life."

Photo courtesy of Trung Le Nguyen.

As immigrants, Nguyen's parents faced prejudice and racism living in their mostly white Midwest community, according to Nguyen. They wanted their two sons to know the language and culture well because, "perhaps then," Nguyen wrote, "[he and his brother's] identities would not be so politicized and we could go about our lives in peace."

"My coming out was met with an exasperation — a sudden resurfacing of a fear that they thought to be long-buried," he wrote.

He continued:

"Just when they thought their boys could be free to navigate the American cultural landscape as full-fledged, respected citizens, another identity pops up that would relegate their oldest son to second-class status in the eyes of a lot of people.”

“When we were little, they were worried that either of their sons could be the next Vincent Chin," Nguyen wrote, referencing the Chinese-American man who was brutally murdered in Detroit in 1982 because of his ethnicity. "Just when that fear subsided, it was replaced with a fear that I could be another Matthew Shepard."

Shepard was tortured and killed in 1998, at age 21, for being gay.

So, Nguyen's dad started having "chats" with his openly queer son.

"Before every time I apply for a job, before every time I go out, before every time I go on a trip, my dad takes me aside for a chat," Nguyen wrote. "He warns me that the world is a dangerous place for me. He tells me to protect myself, to keep secrets."

When Nguyen was younger, the chats came off as condescending. But the older he got, the more he appreciated why his dad felt so moved to remind him how careful to be in the outside world.

Photo courtesy of Trung Le Nguyen.

"My dad is a powerful man — a master kick boxer and tournament champion several times over in his youth," Nguyen wrote. "He’s accustomed to taking on the world as a fighter, and he has the scars and the physique to prove it. But when he talks to me before every time I leave the house, he looks so feeble."

"He’s not lecturing me," Nguyen wrote. "He’s imploring me. He is begging me to do everything that I can to come home safe because he knows he’s completely powerless to protect me like he used to."

Nguyen's brother and father, alongside Nguyen. Photo courtesy of Trung Le Nguyen.

Most parents worry. But it's different when your kid lives in a world that doesn't fully accept them for who they are. It's different when their skin color, or their sexuality, or their religious faith — or any other thing that makes them different — plays a role in how the world sees and treats them. And when a parent has the scars from being different as well, the worry rears its head a bit stronger, too.

The day Nguyen posted his story to Facebook in 2012, his father had yet another chat with him.

"My dad has no idea it’s [LGBTQ] Pride weekend," Nguyen concluded, "but this morning began with some sagely advice over coffee: Do what you love, and love who you love. I’m proud of you already." ❤️

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less