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Biden’s State of the Union guest Brandon Tsay says he’s in therapy after Monterey Park shooting

Following the shooting tragedy in Monterey Park, Calif., last month, the families of the victims said they would use their spotlight as guests at the State of the Union to discuss the impact of gun violence on their Asian American community.

Brandon Tsay, who attends as a guest of President Biden and who disarmed a mass shooter in a crowded dance hall, said he had to deal with post-incident trauma.

“I still live in a state of anxiety and fear where I want to project my feelings and emotions to connect with other human beings. And currently, I have found the strength to seek professional help,” Tsay, 26, told NBC News, saying he had attended several therapy sessions since the tragedy.

Tsay said asking for help is not common in the Asian American community, but the shooting changed her perspective.

“In my environment, growing up, I feel that I have been strengthened [with] the idea that I should … be strong, keep your feelings locked up and try to be the masculine, dominant person in your house,” Tsay said. “But now that I’ve had some time to process, I now know that I need to seek professional help because these feelings that have arisen with this situation are too much to bear on my own.”

Juily Phun, niece of Muoi Dai Ung, who was killed in the Jan. 21 shooting, will be a guest of Rep. Judy Chu, D-California, and said her message was not to overlook the needs of the Asian American community.

“What we can do is advocate and advocate on behalf of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders so this doesn’t happen,” Phun told NBC News. ” It is a beautiful city. But the way it can be more beautiful, the way it can be more wonderful and diverse, is that there are resources for the type of complex community that we have.

It’s been about two weeks since the shooting that left 11 people dead, and dealing with the tragedy has been difficult for both guests on the State of the Union. Tsay has opened up about his own mental health issues following the incident, during which he pounced on the shooter, who walked into his family’s Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio.

Phun said she was still in shock, swinging between a heady mix of sadness and anger as her family made arrangements following her aunt’s death. Ung’s daughter, Phun’s cousin, lives abroad and had just returned home to visit her mother after more than a decade of separation.

“I used to tell people that she came to see her mother and now she came to bury her mother,” Phun said. “And when I asked him, ‘What can I do?’ She replied, ‘Can you bring my mother back?’ »

Phun said hopefully the story of his aunt, an avid ballroom dancer known to be outgoing, will resonate with others and show that such tragedies can affect anyone.

“She wasn’t my aunt. She was our aunt. She was all our aunts. We all have an aunt who loves dancing. We all have a lovely aunt. We all have an aunt who went through hard times trying to find joy,” Phun said. “And anyone looking into the situation will also see themselves and their family in my family. That’s what I hope people will see — that it’s not just about our family tragedy. It’s all of us.

Chu said that in addition to spotlighting Phun’s family, she is advocating for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, greater awareness of red flag laws that could prevent those who appear as threats from gaining access to firearms, and greater community outreach Asian Americans on gun safety.

“It’s so obvious from Sandy Hook to Uvalde to Buffalo and now to Monterey Park that we need to pass laws that will keep Americans safe,” Chu said. “There are things we’ve been working on for so long, but the urgency is so clear.”


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