Vietnamese LGBTs Protest Exclusion From Lunar New Year Parade In The OC

tet paradeAh, Orange County, California! The birthplace of Prop 8—where exclusion is a way of life.

The latest unpleasantness in the OC involves an LGBT Vietnamese group claiming its being barred from the annual Lunar New Year Parade on February 11 in Little Saigon.

The Partnership of Viet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations submitted its application and  $100 fee but never got an clear answer from parade organizers. (Other contingents got approval almost immediately.)

After calls, an online petition and a press conference failed, activists held a protest on Monday afternoon at the organizers’ offices in Westminster.  “This is a clear violation of our civil rights on public land, and we are pursuing some of our options,” said Natalie Newton of the support group O Moi. “We’d rather not take this to a level of legal, extended court deliberations, however we do know our rights and see this as a violation of our civil liberties.”

Gay participants joined the Tet celebration for the first time in 2010, leading several Catholic groups to pull out of the parade.  But this year, the Westminster City Council faced a $10.4-million budget shortfall and handed off responsibility for the parade to Vietnamese community groups.

On Monday, a member of the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, which is spearheading the parade, launched a Change.org petition to block involvement by LGBT participants:

What is the TET parade? TET parade is an event to promote and enrich the Vietnamese culture which has been passed on from one generation to another generation. Showing the sexual affection such as kissing or holding hand in public is not acceptable or part of the Vietnamese culture; however, VA LGBT has acted out in the TET parade in 2011 which has caused the TET parade to fail in 2011 and 2012.

This action has demoted the beautiful and enrich the culture of the Vietnamese community. In order to protect the TET parade and Vietnamese culture, we would seek for your help to sign this petition, so that VA LGBT cannot participate in the TET parade this year.

Best regards,
James Truong
Secretary of the Vietnamse [sic] American Federation of Southern California

The petition has already received more than 50 signatures. “They can hang out and do their own things in their own homes,” one commentor wrote. “We don’t need to see them displaying their affectionate in front of children. They kept crying about their rights, what’s about our rights?”

We’re pretty sure the same kind of language was used by Orange County’s lily-white residents when the Vietnamese community moved in.