Suni Lee has “received so much hate” over her relationship with Jaylin Smith.
The 18-year-old gymnast - who last summer became the first Asian-American to secure a gold medal in the all-around event at the Tokyo Olympics - revealed that she has battled against racist backlash from the Hmong-American community because her partner is Black.
In the comments of a Tik Tok video celebrating Suni and Jaylin’s love, the Olympian wrote - wrote: “This makes me so happy. I’ve received so much hate. They support me when it’s beneficial for them, never when it comes to my happiness. Thank you!”
Hmong-Americans are an ethnic group diaspora - mainly from countries such as Laos, Vietnam and Thailand - who first came to the USA in the 1970s following the US government's military campaigns in the 70s.
The video clip showed the poster - who uses the app under the name @alixphom - celebrating Suni's new relationship, but acknowledging the obstacles she might find from people with the same heritage as her.
The caption read: “I know that Sunisa will be judged by certain eyes in the Hmong community because her man is Black. LOVE is LOVE, no matter what race or gender you are. Keep doing you QUEEN.”
In November, the former ‘Dancing With the Stars’ contestant revealed she and a group of friends - who also have Asian heritage - were a victim of a racist attack, which included being attacked with pepper spray and having slurs, such as “ching chong” yelled at them.
Suni shared: “I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off.
“I didn’t do anything to them, and having the reputation, it’s so hard because I didn’t want to do anything that could get me into trouble. I just let it happen.”
She also shared how she handles her mental health struggles, ruling it okay to “ask for help”.
She said: “It’s okay to feel down sometimes, but what I’ve realised is that it’s important to express your feelings and ask for help. In the past, I might have pushed on and not acknowledged the state of my mental health. But there’s so much power in owning your feelings. It’s not weakness, it’s actually taking control.”