Viet Rainbow demands change from culturally conservative Asians in Orange County

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Posted December 14, 2013
Source: LGBT Weekly

Pitting the old against the new, a group of young, impatient LGBT activists are challenging the status quo in Orange County by refusing to be marginalized any longer among the nation’s largest Vietnamese-American population. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, a group of millennials, headed by Hieu Nguyen, have formed Viet Rainbow to combat what they see as the continuing ostracization of the LGBT community in this deeply conservative enclave.  “The newly formed Viet Rainbow has emerged as a militant front and a platform for educating immigrants in a community that rigidly clings to tradition. There is a chapter for parents. There is a scholarship for LGBT students. And there is a resolve to march in the upcoming annual Tet parade.”

The parade, second only to the Lunar New Year in importance to this sprawling community, has officially barred those from the LGBT community from participating. And while still paying off legal fees from a challenge last year from “the then-fledgling Partnership of Viet LGBT Organizations,” both sides have dug in their heels in what appears to be an epic clash of ideals.

“This issue isn’t going to go away. Organizers will be called out. They will hear the demands — there’s no way to avoid it,” Peter Renn, an attorney at Lambda Legal, said. “This blatant act of discrimination will not be left unchallenged,” added Wilson Cruz, spokesman for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “If Tet parade leaders want to truly celebrate this day, they must do so by acknowledging and celebrating with the entire community.”

For their part, Vietnamese-American spokesman Hung P. Nguyen, a member of the South Vietnamese Marines Veteran Charities Assn., which cosponsored the 2013 parade, said, “I counseled them. I told them that when they carry banners, when they position gay rights as human rights … that this issue is too new for the community. Don’t impose,” he said. “The reaction of the community will be to strike back.”

For his part, Nguyen is unbowed. “”We can have our own parade, but that’s not the point,” he said. “The point is coming together as a community. We’re not less than — we’re part of this community. And for a long time, we were silent. But not anymore.”