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Gay and lesbian coalition fears exclusion from Tet parade

The group has participated for the last three years in the annual event in Orange County. Organizers of the Feb. 10 parade say they want to meet with the group.

February 02, 2013|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
  • The crowd along Bolsa Ave. interacts with dragon dancers during a previous Tet Parade in Westminster.
The crowd along Bolsa Ave. interacts with dragon dancers during a previous… (Robert Lachman, Los Angeles…)

A coalition of Vietnamese gay and lesbian groups is fearful it won't be allowed to participate in the nation's only Tet parade, held each year on the Lunar New Year in bustling Little Saigon.

The colorful procession, scheduled for Feb. 10, draws about 10,000 people and dates back nearly three decades. It typically attracts political and civic leaders in Orange County's Vietnamese community.

For three years, LGBT groups have marched in the Westminster parade, but this year organizers said they first wanted to meet with the group. But no time or place for the meeting has been set.

On Monday, the Partnership of Viet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations submitted an application and paid a fee of $100 to parade organizers, said Pierre Tran, of the Gay Vietnamese Alliance.

"We just want to be part of it," said Tran. "We don't want to be seen as foreigners or the black sheep of the community."

The first year LGBT groups marched in the parade, several Vietnamese religious organizations boycotted the event. Religious groups have continued to oppose the group's presence.

"I think there is a segment of our community, because of their religious faith, that thinks that being LGBT is an abomination or unnatural," said Gina Masequesmay, chairwoman of the Asian-American Studies Department at Cal State Northridge. She has marched in the parade the last three years.

Nghia X. Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, which is sponsoring the parade, did not return a call seeking comment.

Minh Tran, who coordinates a support group for Vietnamese members of the LGBT community, said he believed the coalition is being excluded "by default."

Tran acknowledged that homosexuality is a delicate issue in the Vietnamese community, but said that is even more reason to let the groups march.

"It's very empowering for people to see representation," he said.

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

Times staff writer Anh Do contributed to this report.

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