Vietnamese Community Votes for LGBT Inclusion in Tết Parade
Post submitted by Hyacinth Alvaran, HRC Diversity Program Manager
On January 4th, members of the Orange County Vietnamese community voted 51-36 to include an LGBT contingent in the annual Tết parade of Little Saigon along Bolsa Avenue in Westminster, CA, the largest Vietnamese community in the nation. Tết is a cornerstone Vietnamese cultural event that celebrates the Lunar New Year, and this vote marks a historic win for the LGBT Vietnamese community and allies after a year-long struggle to be included in the parade, although more clarification is needed over the code of conduct that outlines the terms of participation.
Last year, the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California barred the participation of an LGBT contingent in the parade. In previous years, when the parade was funded by the city of Westminster, the Partnership of Viet LGBT Organizations marched in the parade. Last year, however, the city stopped funding because of budget cuts. It was the federation’s first time organizing the parade. In response, the Partnership of Viet LGBT Organizations pursued legal channels to be included in that parade, but lost. Over the past year, the LGBT Vietnamese community and allies have organized themselves further in an effort to be included in the upcoming parade, and Viet Rainbow OC (VROC) emerged as an organization and a voice for the community.
On December 11th, 2013, the Westminster City Council voted 5-0 to grant a permit to the federation to hold this year’s parade. Despite council members’ vocal disapproval of the federation’s hesitation to include LGBT participation in the event, they were advised by legal counsel to grant the permit due to the federation’s First Amendment rights. At the urging of council members, federation leadership agreed to meet with VROC to find a compromise.
This past Saturday, the federation convened a community assembly and cast ballots over the issue, voting 51-36 to allow LGBT participation. Among those who voted in favor of LGBT inclusion were Westminster Mayor Tri Ta, Councilman Sergio Contreras, South Vietnamese Marines Veteran Charities Association, and the Union of Vietnamese Student Assocation of Southern California, which organizes a parallel but independent Tết festival.
The parade is scheduled for February 1st.