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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora