News / USA

Tet Parade Organizers in California Exclude LGBT Groups

Members of the Vietnamese-American LGBT community march in the Orange County, California, Tet parade in 2010.
Members of the Vietnamese-American LGBT community march in the Orange County, California, Tet parade in 2010.
Every year, the large Vietnamese-American community in the Little Saigon area of Orange County, California, eagerly anticipates the Tet parade, both to ring in the lunar new year and to affirm their cultural heritage.

This year, however, a row over the participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] activists in the February 10 parade has stirred controversy in the community.

In years past, LGBT activists have participated in what was a city-sponsored event, but this year, sponsorship changed to private hands, and the activists were asked to stay away.

Minh Tran, a member of the Vietnamese LGBT Coalition, said that in the past, the crowds have been receptive to the gay marchers, even applauding them, although he did add that usually one or two people out of the many thousands of spectators would yell obscenities.

Tran says that while Little Saigon is a conservative community known for staunch anti-communism and adherence to Catholicism, most parade spectators have shown support for LGBT marchers in the past.

Tran said this year’s controversy can trace its roots back to 2010, when the Vietnamese Interfaith Council, a religious group, protested the participation of LGBT groups to the city of Westminster, which then funded the parade.

According to Natalie Newton, an LGBT organizer, the council presented the city with a list of  groups they said would boycott the parade if the activists were allowed to participate. The city told the council they could not ban a group from participating and, according to Newton, none of the groups--except the leaders of the Interfaith Council--ended up boycotting the parade.

This year, the city was strapped for money and handed the parade over to the community. A group of organizers came forward and offered to pay for the parade. Many of them are members of the Interfaith Council, according to Tran.

The rhetoric over the exclusion of LGBT activists has only escalated as the parade approaches, with activists accusing parade organizers of smearing them in the media.

“I feel like some of the escalation of the animosity in the media on their side has been damaging to themselves,” said Newton, adding that she and her fellow activists had been accused of  being communists and “selfish young people.”

Parade organizers did offer a compromise, Tran said.

“They suggested we march a half an hour before or after their parade,” he said. “It was basically having our own parade, but they said we could use their sound system. We were pissed.”

Not satisfied, the activists launched a public awareness campaign and even went to court to try to force organizers to let them in. The judge ruled against them.

Still, the LGBT activists may have achieved a moral victory.

“If we were running the show, we wouldn’t exclude the Interfaith Council,” said Newton. “This doesn’t reflect the community.”

She may be right, as some groups have already said they will not participate if the LGBT activists are kept away. The Garden Grove Unified School District, which provides buses for the event, said it will not participate, and local politicians are wondering if they want to be part of an event that could be seen as exclusionary.

According to the Vietnamese-language website Nguoi-Viet, a local congresswoman said she will not attend and hoped the parties would resolve the dispute so that everyone could participate.

Other Asian-American civil rights groups, local and national, have written letters in support of allowing the activists to participate.

Furthermore, many of the LGBT activists have been invited to participate by other groups already approved to march in the parade.

Ian Van Cong, a member of the LGBT group, told the Orange County Register, "Even if we didn't win in court, we won with the community."

Neil Xuan Nghia Nguyen, the president of the group organizing the parade did not respond to phone calls or emails seeking comment.

Long Le, a co-founder of the Department of Vietnamese studies at the University of Houston said he was surprised to hear of the controversy in Orange County. Houston is also home to a large number of Vietnamese-Americans, and while he said the Vietnamese-American community in general is conservative on social issues, they tend to be less so the longer they are in the United States.

“I can’t see how the community at large would have a problem,” he said. “It may be more an issue with the group that’s running the parade.”

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid