Members of prominent Vietnamese LGBT activist groups including Sống Thật (live true) Radio, the Gay Vietnamese Alliance and Ô-Môi marched alongside family and friends for the first time down Bolsa Avenue--drawing an unexpected response from the crowd.
Details after the jump.
Many of the marchers worried about how older, more conservative generations of the Vietnamese community would react to a direct address of LGBT issues--a subject that has remained largely excluded from the cultural dialogue.
"We were anxious, prepared for the worst," stated one UCLA participant who had been cautioned in an AQWA newsletter and various forums to be wary of possible protests being staged against the LGBT marchers.
Long Beach resident Linda Rife came out to support the groups' endeavor after learning about the march through an EQCA newsletter. "I came to counterbalance the boos," she said between cheers as she maneuvered her way through the crowd, keeping up with the procession.
Actually, the amount of "boos" needing to be counterbalanced totaled less than five. Cheers rose from the crowd as the Vietnamese LGBT marchers were announced in English, followed by a second--perhaps more unexpected--wave of cheers as they were again announced in Vietnamese.
Many attendees were already aware of the LGBT groups' participation in the Westminster Tet parade and had expressed their support of the groups' right to march, even if they didn't approve of homosexuality itself.
Even the Evangelists of Hermosa Beach's Hope Chapel who followed the LGBT procession for a few blocks bearing large crosses carried a peaceful message.
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"We love the gays," said Steve Sanchez, a pastor for Hope Chapel. "How many Christians are you going to find that say that? They have just as much right to march as we do."
In short, the call for a boycott from Reverend Tran Thanh Van, Sy Nguyen and other religious conservatives ended in a massive fail and a potential political migraine for Andy Quach.