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Gay Vietnamese Americans return to Lunar New Year parade

Saturday, February 1, 2014
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Nick Ut, APParticipants march Saturday Feb. 1, 2014 in the Lunar New Year parade, as part of the gay and lesbian group Viet Rainbow of Orange County, in Westminster, Calif.

Nick Ut, AP
Participants march Saturday Feb. 1, 2014 in the Lunar New Year parade, as part of the gay and lesbian group Viet Rainbow of Orange County, in Westminster, Calif.

WESTMINSTER, Calif. — After being sidelined from last year’s Lunar New Year parade, gay Vietnamese Americans marched with pride on Saturday in this year’s event.

Nick Ut, AP

Nick Ut, AP

Nick Ut, APTimothy Truong, left, and Peterson Pham march with others Saturday Feb. 1, 2014 in the Lunar New Year parade in Westminster, Calif.

Nick Ut, AP
Timothy Truong, left, and Peterson Pham march with others Saturday Feb. 1, 2014 in the Lunar New Year parade in Westminster, Calif.

At least 70 people marched under the banner of gay and lesbian group Viet Rainbow of Orange County at the annual Tet parade in Little Saigon, said Hieu Nguyen, the organization’s co-chair. Participants showed their Vietnamese heritage by wearing traditional dress and riding bicycles, and their sexual orientation and gender identity by carrying the rainbow flag.

“We’re trying to tap into the memories and the hearts of the spectators and let them know we are Vietnamese American and we are LGBT as well,” Nguyen said.

About 12,000 spectators turned out for the parade that cut straight through the heart of the county’s Vietnamese immigrant enclave in Westminster. The event also featured historical performances, marching bands, school groups and more than 30 floats.

For years, gay Vietnamese-Americans marched in the city-run parade but were barred from participating in 2013 when a community group began sponsoring the event to mark the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration known as Tet.

After prodding from city officials and community members, the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California reversed course for 2014.

Participants had been asked not to carry flags representing specific organizations to keep the focus on those representing the United States and South Vietnam, said Neil Nguyen, the Federation’s president.

“Hopefully everybody cooperates, not only LGBT but every group so we can bring joy and fun for everybody,” he said. “The Tet spirit is happiness.”

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