Chúc Mừng Năm Mới

happy new year everyone! growing up in Vietnam, some of the best memories I have were during new year: no cut in electricity, continuous tv from night of 30th to throughout the 1st, food, firecrackers, visitors, red envelopes, no schools, you name it, two full weeks of happiness. Since we arrived in the US, new year hasn’t quite been the same.. I haven’t joined much new year celebrations… mainly because I don’t particularly identify with the older vietnamese down in Little Saigon except the common love for vietnamese food … namely i have little connection with those who dressed up in old military clothes loudly denouncing communists and supporting wars, or those church goers who preach what they don’t practice… And more importantly, being gay, I had always felt invisible. Even when i came out some 15 years ago, there was a lesson about keeping quiet and not telling anyone else (total BS, i even knew back then, if you are not proud of me, that’s your problem.)

Anyhow, this year, the last few days to be more exact, i’ve felt quite lonely and withdrawn, and i’ve sorted out why. Since 2010, we the vietnamese LGBTQI group had gotten together and participated in the New Year parade in the heart of Little Saigon (the capitol of Vietnam abroad) and those were really the moments I felt belonging. Back in 2010 during our first push for visibility, the homophobes sent harm threats, and for a short moment I debated my own participation. But that’s what they wanted, to bully you into invisibility. To those who claim gays are “a problem of the western world” (you’d be surprised who still thinks so, i once had a heated conversation with my own highly educated colleague), I knew who i was since 7, independent of geography. Altogether, we proudly made our way down the street of Bolsa, and personally i must admit i was extremely happy to finally enjoying Tet as me. (Can i repeat i LOOOVE that dress my sister loaned me, was constantly hogging the cameras smiling :-D).

This year, they tried to exclude us from the parade, citing we’re not part of Vietnamese Culture. And suddenly these feelings of loneliness, anger, resentment, bitterness, the same ones I had before coming out, came rushing back. That’s what it felt like being pushed into non-existence. But luckily, time has changed, i did once manage to come out and live my life, and this year, our group is doing the same. Some of the young and brave leaders within our group have been working extremely hard to keep us visible and thriving today in Little Saigon (we have booth to educate people, and several other groups had invited us to walk in the parade with them to promote unity + equality.) I only wished i could be there having fun celebrating new year with them. But reading the news alone is highly encouraging. Homophobes can try discriminating, it might have worked this year on paper, but that won’t push any of us back into hiding. We will always be part of the community and we will be visible. Happy new year everyone!

some links:

http://www.vsubruins.com/uncategorized/vsu-press-release-in-response-to-exclusion-of-vietnamese-lgbt-orgs-from-tet-parade/

https://www.facebook.com/events/124116254430781/125160220993051/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2013/02/will-god-rain-on-this-years-anti-gay-tet-parade/

http://www.voanews.com/content/vietnamese_american_lgbt_tet_parade_orange_county/1600231.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jimmy-nguyen/lgbt-groups-little-saigon-tet-parade_b_2643726.html

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/parade-494769-group-gay.html

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

8 Responses to Chúc Mừng Năm Mới

  1. Eyesometric says:

    Good for you Dr T – long may you continue, thrive and grow in your visibility. Happy New Year! and thank you for a really interesting post.

  2. jcmwee says:

    Happy Lunar New Year Dr T. Sorry the Tet parade ended up being so terribly and sadly politicised.

    My Chinese New Year family get-together was marred by mother dithering as to whether to have my girlf along as well (“If you want.”, then “Can you come by yourself?”, then “Think of the impression you’ll make.”) Luckily for my mother, father’s hospitalisation with severe and inexplicable muscle spasms meant cancellation of the celebrations and a chance to avoid further arguments with me.

    Instead, I drove about 3 hours towards Sydney to get in the swing of the Lunar New Year at Cabramatta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabramatta,_New_South_Wales), but I’ll be darned – had not bothered to check when the festivities would be on (this coming weekend apparently). Most shops were shut as storeholders took the opportunity to celebrate with family. Still, had excellent banh mi for lunch.

    May the year of the water snake bring you good times Dr T. :)

    And you’re right – nothing’ll push us back into hiding. Out. Proud. With banh mi. YUM! ;-p

  3. yvette says:

    Happy New Year DrT! There are lots of reasons to be proud of you ! An obvious one after reading you tonight here, is your awareness and loyalty. Having had the chance to meet you even briefly I feel so proud of your achievement and so humble when I try to visualise your fight for ‘visibility’ with so much strength and hope for this society to get better..France is only opening the door to more freedom and less homophobia, and the ‘battle’is raging.Still it is never too late!

  4. thả diều says:

    thanks all :-), i had bánh chưng last night to celebrate my new year. hey jcmwee, happy new year to you! and may the year of snake brings you lots and lots of great singing opportunity and others in life as well! and i’d looove some bánh mì too! but did your bánh mì has đồ chua (pickled daikon + carrots) and cilantro? and paté? :-) there used to be a shop here that sells the best bánh mì in the boston area, but then they had to close down and move, and i truly neglected to ask them where they moved to…
    hi Yvette and Eyes! happy new year to you! may there be many more fun music discussions to come! (sshhh, did i tell you i requested tix for a couple of Harteros’ performances? fingers crossed… still waiting to hear from them…)

    • jcmwee says:

      I’d forgotten to buy rice cake for the lunar new year! How remiss of me! Perhaps the ‘eat less, diet more’ mentality has finally kicked in after a lifetime of eating my guts out!

      To be honest Dr T, I ate my banh mi so quickly, I can’t remember what was in it apart from the pork, the pate, the cilantro and the soy/fish sauce! I’ve had banh mi with the pickled daikon + carrots, some without. Generally love it all anyway. :)

    • Eyesometric says:

      No you did not tell us about Frau H tix!! Is that the same trip as Der R?

  5. Cat says:

    It’s odd how even after years of being out the feeling of security, acceptance, is so fragile that things like this can rush as back to the time of fear and insecurity. But you have been a big part of setting the bell of change ringing in your community Dr T – and I can’t imagine even a setback like this will stop you or your colleagues in the LGBTQI Vietnamese community. Every parade, every post like this challenges the bigots and gives strength to those still living in the closet. I know what it is to ‘wobble’, and I still feel angry at how many, though not all of course, straight people fail to get what a huge emotional cost it is still to be out, let alone out, proud and fighting.

    They can rain on our parade but with people like you they can’t drown us out completely. And now I am off to find Babs singing Don’t Rain on my Parade cos Sunday mornings ought to be full of show tunes and Babs :)

    PS I would even do the stage door lurk if it was to take a photo of you in that dress with VK at Der R…. You look absolutely stunning!

    • thả diều says:

      it’s always sooo great to relate inner feelings! and your comment came in just as i was finishing this , it’s all related actually, as i might explain later at some point… what inspires us to do certain things…

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