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Vietnam – at the forefront of gay equality in Asia? 3 August 2012

Posted by uggclogs in Happiness, Life, only in Vietnam, Vietnam.
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Source: Interweb

It has been a full year since my return from Vietnam. It has been a good, but difficult year for me, and not a day goes by without me thinking about Vietnam and the amazing time that I had there.

I have become one of those annoying people who has a million anecdotes, ready to share with anyone who will listen. Many people are interested, of course, yet I am sure I bore some. So I loathe to spend another post on this love affair of mine with the long, slender country of Sout East Asia. I know some of you are fed up with my constant talking about it.

But the recent news (and I found this through the Daily Beast) caught my eye, because either things have truly changed in Vietnam since I left (very possible, considering how quickly the country develops) or I underestimated the country significantly. Or perhaps there is yet again a disconnect between news outside of the borders and what is happening on the ground. But all the same, it’s an interesting development!

Vietnam is having its first pride parade this weekend in Hanoi.

I was fully aware of a vibrant gay community in Hanoi, of course. I even knew a few gay (Vietnamese) men. Yet the idea of same-sex couples possibly being considered for legal marriage, has surprised me.

I have had vivid conversations with Vietnamese denying that there are any gay people in Vietnam. One of my best Vietnamese friends excitedly told me that she had seen “Hanoi’s Gay” one day, and when I pressed her on it, she explained that she had in fact seen a cross dresser. The poor man was classified in her mind as the only gay in Hanoi, a city of about 6.5 million people. I tried to explain to her that this was, of course unlikely, as there were probably quite a number of people in Hanoi that were gay. And just the fact that the man was a cross-dresser or a transvestite did also not necessarily mean she was gay at all. My friend just stared at me blankly.

Time and time again would I have discussions as a variation of this one. Maybe I attracted people who were curious in general, but for a population that did not think gay people existed, they sure were curious about gays and being gay. Sexuality is not something that is discussed much, and vibrators and dildos are banned from being sold. Many of the public policies portray a country in denial about sex, yet statistics show that there is plenty going on, with marriages and babies happening a lot (especially in this fortuitous year of the dragon) but also with the huge number of brothels and “karaoke” bars available. It’s always interesting the first time you go to a non-family karaoke bar and it clicks…

But I digress. To hear that there is a gay pride parade in Hanoi this weekend makes me wish I were there. I would have liked to go to show my support. Any type of demonstration is usually frowned upon, and gay pride can not be easy in a conservative country like Vietnam. And I suppose the gay community still has a lot to fight for, with their second day‘s tag line being “Different, but not deviant”.

But good on them. I will be thinking about the men and women who will participate, and hoping that it will all remain positive.

Good luck!

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Comments»

1. X - 14 August 2012

It’s just a distraction, don’t get too excited.

uggclogs - 14 August 2012

Like everything, there is more than meets the eye in Vietnam. And I am now no longer in country, making it even more so. So, I believe you.

2. Tịnh Bối - 25 August 2012

I agree: it sounds like just a distraction from other troubled developments. At any rate, the general population of Vietnam is still very ill-informed about homosexuality, even though homophobia isn’t deeply rooted in their culture due to the fact that it is not a Christian country (yet). More and more foreign evangelists, unfortunately, are making inroad there and spreading hatred toward gays and lesbians.


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