Gay sitcom proves hit in Vietnam
The first gay sitcom in conservative, communist Vietnam has become a nationwide phenomenon, with the opening episode of the 15-part series receiving more than one million YouTube views to date.
- Published: 4/04/2013 at 10:47 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
A screen shot from the first episode of My Best Gay Friends, which has received more than one million YouTube views.
My Best Gay Friends, written by 21-year-old student Dang Khoa, features homosexual Vietnamese actors, who volunteered to take part in the project.
“I’ve seen many movies and comedies about the homosexual community,” Mr Khoa told Tuoi Tre News. “The images of homosexuals are very negative and audiences then have an ugly idea of the community.
“It’s not right. I’m gay and I see my life as very normal. That’s why I want to bring true images of homosexuals to everyone, to change their perspective on us.”
The latest episode sees an appearance from makeup artist Cindy Thai Tai, the first person in Vietnam to publicly come out as a transgender, 10 years ago.
But not all of the cast members on My Best Gay Friends are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) community.
Minh Thanh, 19, one of the heterosexual actors on My Best Gay Friends, said: “Joining this show, I think I’ve contributed to changing people’s perspective on homosexuals. People were born this way; we should know how to respect each other for who we really are.”
The success of the sitcom comes as Swedish international human rights organisation Civil Rights Defenders approved a US$6,000 dollar (176,460 baht) grant for a Pride celebration in Vietnam this year.
A woman poses with a rainbow flag displaying the words "Viet Pride" as she prepares to take part in Vietnam's first ever gay pride parade on a road in Hanoi on Aug 5, 2012. Civil Rights Defenders has approved a $6,000 dollar grant for Viet Pride 2013. (AFP Photo)
Viet Pride 2013 will include a campaign to end discrimination towards LGBT people in employment, a bicycle rally, film showings and workshops from August 2-4 in Hanoi.
“We will advocate for local and international corporations that have business in Vietnam to take action to raise awareness about sexual orientation and gender identity in office and adopt a non-discriminatory attitude in recruiting workers,” Viet Pride founder Nguyen Thanh Tam told Gay Star News.
The 2012 event, the first Pride celebration in Vietnam, was not sanctioned by the authorities, but Ms Tam is hopeful the event can get state approval this year.
“We are more prepared than last year,” she said. “Permission request for the bicycle rally was submitted in early March and one for film screenings will be submitted in May. We will keep our fingers crossed.”
Ms Tam is also seeking funding for a scholarship program called Strive with Pride, to assist LGBT school drop-outs who want to pursue higher education.
“These scholarships, we believe, will play a part in closing the opportunity gap and lead to a better representation of LGBT people in the workforce and in society generally,” she said.
"Strive with Pride" will be the theme for Viet Pride 2013.
“Gay shame has been in existence for so long and has caused so much suffering,” said Ms Tam. “So the films that we are going to screen, the employment equality campaign, workshops, and scholarships will celebrate lives of people who did not give in to the guilt and shame imposed on being gay but worked their way to dignity and honour. We want this message to empower people to lead their lives with pride.”
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- Writer: Online reporters