Will God Rain on this year’s Anti-Gay Tet Parade?


The beautiful and cute folks of the Viet LGBT Alliance really didn’t want me to use that title – a cheerful and generous lot, they want the parade to go well and don’t want anyone boycotting it.  Still, looking outside, it COULD rain.  And how can they not love Barbara Streisand:

The Viet LGBT Alliance feels they are winning “the battle of public opinion,” even though they lost their court case yesterday against the so-called “Vietnamese-American Federation of Southern California,” whose homophobic core consists of Little Saigon’s “Interfaith Alliance.”  Probably not for long will things stay this way.  Quite a generation gap was apparent at the hearing, with hunched-over pinched-face pastors on one side of the room and bright-eyed boys and girls on the other.

It was depressing to see that I knew the two lawyers representing the bigots – both of them Garden Grove politicians – former “Democratic” councilman Mark Rosen and pro-tem/Dovinh-spouse Dina Nguyen.  Anything for money?  Or do Mark and Dina hate fags as well (like their Mayor Bruce Broadwater?)  Perhaps Exhibit E holds a clue.

Garden Grove’s anti-gay legal dream team.

In the most memorable moment of the hearing, Judge Geoffrey Glass hissed that he was outraged by the defense’s inclusion of “Exhibit E,” which turned out to be (just as I suspected) a series of garish photos of gyrating men in G-strings, probably from some Castro Street bacchanalia, as irrelevant to Little Saigon’s past gay celebrations as could be imagined.  “Apparently you hope this will disgust me and affect my judgment,” growled the Judge,  “instead I’m disgusted that you tried that tactic.”  (I paraphrase from memory.)

Nice, Mark.

Classy, Dina.

But that was the closest we got to thinking we might win.  Judge Glass, who laboriously reasons his way to a decision with closed eyes, crooked neck, and furrowed brow like he is feeling his way through a migraine, just did not find our main argument – that the application to be included in the parade constituted a contract which should not be broken – to be a compelling one.

Maybe I should back up a little, in case you’re just tuning in…

Le Van Duyet, the great gay general honored by Tet. How harshly would he deal with these cranky old Interfaith pastors, you think?

All the way to 18th-century GAY General Le Van Duyet, founder of the Nguyen dynasty (and ancestor of Dina), whose heroic memory is HONORED BY THE TET FESTIVAL?   No, although that’s pretty damn ironic, and as the Bolsavik snarks, there’s “No word yet on whether the gay general is banned” from this year’s parade.

No.  What I meant was, let’s go back just a few years to when the Viet LGBT’s first started participating in the parade.  That’s when it was being run by the City of Westminster, so they couldn’t legally be excluded.

Remember how I said THEY DON’T WANT A BOYCOTT, they don’t like boycotts?  Well you know who does love boycotts?  The homophobic “Interfaith Alliance,” that’s who!  Each time the gays were included, the Interfaith Alliance ran around with a long list of ALL the people and businesses that would boycott the parade if the gays were included.  And you know who always ended up boycotting the parade?  NOBODY BUT THE SILLY INTERFAITH ALLIANCE.

This year, the City of Westminster is too broke to put on the parade, so the anti-gay Vietnamese-American Federation, along with the Interfaith Alliance, offered to take it off their hands, and no disagreements were heard.  Privately funded, they are free to legally discriminate, and there’s not much we can do about it.

The parade’s organizing committee is now headed by Neil Xuan Nghia Nguyen, a pompous blowhard who goes about telling the world that he “represents five hundred thousand Vietnamese-Americans” even though only a tiny fraction of that number ever voted for him (as head of the “Federation.”)

As VietStar‘s Trong Doan reminded everyone at today’s press conference, when the Federation came to the council asking to run the parade, ten people spoke in favor, nobody spoke against, and the community didn’t take much notice.  You see?  It’s just like the rest of the world out here OUTSIDE OF LITTLE SAIGON – when the people aren’t paying attention, BAD SHIT HAPPENS!

Well, Are The Viet LGBTs Delusional When They Say They’re “Winning?”

That is to say, when they put a brave face on things and claim they’re “winning in the court of public opinion,” are they being a bunch of gay, Vietnamese-American Charlie Sheens?

Not at all.

Letters of support, and complaint, have poured in from groups and sponsors, many of whom say they will back out of next year’s parade if this exclusion continues – that includes the parade’s largest sponsor, Elmore Toyota.  (The best solution for the future would be for the City to put on the parade using private donations – this is being looked into.)

Bolsavic tells us “The board of the Vietnamese-American Chamber of Commerce, which represents 1,500 Viet business owners, also voted unanimously to send a letter to parade organizers in support of the LGBT group.”  And Greg Diamond, always keen to protect the Democratic Party from my righteous lashings, hastens to inform me that even THEY sent in this letter … um … today.

We’ve already reported the stunning story of the Garden Grove School District pulling out, at the urging of trustee Bao Nguyen.  As we’ve mentioned, the LGBTs are not encouraging boycotts, but they understand the legal situation a school district finds itself in regarding discrimination, as well as the amazing sight of a Republican-dominated Board (in Garden Grove for Christ’s sake) taking a move in favor of gays.  We still hope the charismatic and trilingual Bao will show up and join us on Sunday morning!  (see below)

And the United Viet Students Association have invited the LGBTs to march with THEM.

Yes, our Gay Viet Friends Are Gonna March Anyway!

And you’re invited to join with them. From their Facebook event page:


This is NOT a protest. This is a peaceful participation in a community event.

Dr. Natalie Newton, my new hero

Sun Feb 10
8:30am, gather and await further instructions and rainbow flags.
9200 Bolsa Ave (Phuoc Loc Tho / Asian Garden Mall)

Please look for our red balloons, yellow t-shirts for human rights, and signs.

Sincerely, our gratitude comes without saying, as it goes without saying. In the next few days, we savor in the community support that we have garnered, all the friends and collaborators that we have worked with in the fight, and look forward to a joyous TET SEASON. It’s time to celebrate the victories that we have won in our communities and our new family in this campaign.

Peace as always,


And all you politicians…

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (who used to never miss the parade, although now it’s no longer in her district), Congressman Alan Lowenthal, and State Senator Lou Correa, have all decided not to attend.  I submit, humbly, that’s not much.  I mean, how much do you think about people you’re not seeing?  I really think they’d only be missed by the small overlap of parade nerds who are also political nerds.  Has Loretta even released a statement about this?  I haven’t seen it.  How much cooler would it be if they showed up Sunday morning to support our gay brothers and sisters?  I believe I will harass them about this, having at one time or another snagged most of their cell phone numbers.

I’m happy to say I’ve already gotten to the best Santa Ana Councilmembers, who were originally planning to attend, then decided to boycott due to the discrimination, but will now be there WITH the gays waving rainbow flags!  The great Mayor Pro-Tem Sal Tinajero, who’s as proud as punch of his own gay son, was the first to enthusiastically accept our invite, and he says he’s gonna drag along Michele Martinez, David Benavides, and anyone else he can grab hold of.

And glamorous Diana Lee Carey, brand new Westminster councilwoman and heroine of the 405 freeway, has been planning for this for months, and has a brand new, gorgeous Vietnamese áo dài.  In her frustration and disgust at the discrimination she decided to march in her áo dài wearing a Black Arm Band.  I just got hold of her and let her know that the Viet LGBTs would very much appreciate it if a couple of them could march WITH her.  Diana says SURE, she’d be honored … but ONLY if they wear áo dàis like her!

[Update – Diana writes in:  “People keep telling me Vietnamese homophobia is cultural.  Well, foot-binding was cultural too, but we evolved away from that.”  And then later:  “can’t sleep.  Thinking about all my friends and relatives killed in the war so the Vietnamese could be free…Sad…tears…”

And then in the morning:  “Please add that I am gratified by the support the majority of the Vietnamese community has shown this group.”]

I sure wish I could be there, but I work Sunday mornings playing organ in a Fullerton church.  The rest of you all go and report back to me.  Even if it rains!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.