Though they only numbered about 100, participants in Vietnam's first LGBT Pride Parade beamed with joy as they rode bicycles and waved rainbow flags through the streets of Hanoi on Sunday.
Word that the Justice Ministry was considering legalizing same-sex marriage no doubt gave them an extra boost of energy on their six-mile ride, which was as much about visibility as it was pride. "Many Vietnamese still believe that gay people don't exist in Vietnam," said organizer Nguyen Thanh Tam.
The situation for the LGBT community in Vietnam and other countries in Asia is different, though no less complicated, than it is in the U.S. There's no massiv Christian right screaming fire and brimstone about homosexuals being consigned to hell, but a strong Confucian belief in family and traditions makes coming out a daunting process. "I feel very sad... I feel very guilty. I don't feel guilty because I fell in love with a girl, but I feel guilty because I cannot be honest with my mom," lesbian Le Huong told Independent Online.