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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid