For the first time ever, a contingent of LGBT Vietnamese Americans will be marching today, February 13, in the Tet Parade in Westminster, CA in Orange County, which is also known as Little Saigon and one of the epicenters of the Vietnamese American community. Unfortunately, they have come under fire from many Vietnamese American religious right groups, with many of them threatening to boycott the event.
According to Thanh Do, co-chair for Gay Vietnamese Alliance, one of the four LGBT groups marching in a collective group, he explains that while LGBTs have always played a huge role in Vietnamese and Vietnamese American culture, the four groups wanted to demonstrate visibility and positivity for this segment of the community. “We want to show that we have always been part of the Vietnamese culture, and we respect and maintain that culture through our contributions, performances and art,” in a phone interview I had with him yesterday. “We felt that the community was ready to accept us.”
Thanh also notes that these groups are also marching to demonstrate against the homophobia that also exists within the Vietnamese American community. “Most importantly,” he states, “we are marching for all the queer youth and other LGBT folks to show that they are not alone and for all the LGBT people in the Vietnamese community who were killed or committed suicide because of their orientation.” He personally also thanked the City of Westminster and Greg Johnson, the city services director, for accepting and encouraging the groups to march in the Tet Parade.