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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid