Conical hats painted with rainbows and trans flags, whack dancing, and a march around the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake swept over Hanoi, Vietnam in late September for the city’s first on-ground Pride celebration since 2019. For the festival’s 11th anniversary, organizers held activities from Sept. 19 to 25 under the theme “Knock, Knock! It’s Love.”
The first Pride in Vietnam was held in Hanoi in 2012 and it’s been celebrated annually ever since, minus two years with smaller online versions in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.“This year, we were honored to welcome more than 6,000 people to join us. Offline and online, we reached more than 200,000 people,” said Tran Nhat Quang, one of the organizers of Hanoi Pride 2022. “I think those numbers represent how far Pride has come in Vietnam.”Many of those in the crowd were Vietnamese youth who were celebrating their first Pride event. “I only met [queer] people online,” said Fon, who is gay and non-binary. They said they didn’t expect the event to be so crowded. “It’s greater than I imagined.”One of the main campaigns present at Hanoi Pride this year was the “Tôi Đồng Ý” (I Do) movement to legalize same-sex marriage in Vietnam. “We hope the government will open and allow gay marriage in the future so that my friend and his husband can get married,” said 18-year-old Moi. One of the 12 groups part of this year’s Hanoi Pride organizing coalition was LumiQueer, which organized the Hanoi International Queer Film Week in conjunction with Pride week.
“LumiQueer is an organization that works on queer storytelling in Vietnam using any form of art, starting with films,” said Nguyen Bao Chau, the founder and director of LumiQueer. “[This event] is the only queer film festival that is legally permitted in Vietnam.” At a film screening in late September, guests were offered a roll of masking tape at the door, where people could mark an “X” on themselves if they didn’t want to be filmed or photographed. “I hope that Hanoi Pride can keep with what we are doing every year—with the parade, with the festival, with all the other community events,” said Chau, who is a trans man and part of the organizing committee for this year’s Hanoi Pride. “So that the community in Hanoi can have an annual event to look forward to, to ask our families to come and to ask our friends to come.”VICE spoke with some people at Hanoi’s Pride events about why they’re there, what they’re fighting for, and their hope for the future.
“Have fun, do whatever you want to do… Be whatever you want to be. Whatever is trending on TikTok. My boyfriend was here to visit me during Pride, so that was my Pride.” — Quang (he/him)“I’m actually one of the organizers for Hanoi Pride. I’ve been working for Pride for five years now. It’s what I love to do—to work together and to come up with something that we call our own. So I really appreciate Hanoi Pride. I think for a lot of people, two years in COVID was like a blur. We could not remember anything because we didn’t have a chance to gather together. So for me personally, getting to see everyone again, especially during the walk, the bike rally, and the festival itself, was very surreal. Because finally, I can be with people who are like me. It was magical, surreal, and very empowering to be around different people who share the same goal: to push for a better society. Equality, freedom, and love.” — Tran Nhat Quang (he/they)
“This is my first time going here so I’m confused and excited because everything is just so wholesome and everyone is just so pretty and handsome. I can’t handle it. They are so slay, so hot. I love them so much.” — Mossie (he/him)“This is my first time [at Pride] and I’m really surprised since it’s unlike in the south [of Vietnam], where people are more free. Here in the north, the rules are stricter. So I’m very surprised to see that there are a lot of people gathered around here today. I feel like I can be a bit of myself. Everyone is gorgeous. I can’t stop looking at all of them. I took a lot of pictures. I really love this place.” — CrowW (he/they)
“I am a transgender woman. My parents are really supportive, and I have really supportive friends. So life being out, for me, has been happy. I hope the transgender community in Hanoi has access to medical support and support from the community, society, and their families to be who they are. Because I feel like it’s more open for gay people but for trans, some people are not open about that. I hope in the future it can change. Humans are humans. I’m celebrating Pride by being myself. By showing people I am happy as I am, as a transgender person, as a transgender woman. So people can be comfortable and see my confidence. I hope people see the confidence in me and it inspires them to be who they are.” — Lan Anh (she/her)
“I express my queer identity through my works. I insert a lot of queer culture details into them, as I’m a fashion student. After I got out of high school, and I was no longer in my comfort zone, I started to make new friends. They opened my eyes to this world of drag. Once, I went to a small Ball in Hai Phong, and I was so lucky to win the ‘Show Your Pride’ category. I am so interested in Balls and drag now. [Tonight,] I lost in the first round, but I’m not sad about it—I had a lot of fun. After I felt the vibe of this place—no one is judging—I just entered all the categories I wanted to. Everyone acted just in the way I expected. Everyone gave me a lot of cheers, like they embrace what I’m showing. So I love that a lot.” — hwipham (they/them)
“This is a queer disabled flag. It’s to spread [awareness] about inclusivity in Pride parades, because usually queer disabled people aren’t included. Because Pride events aren’t accessible enough, I don’t usually see disabled queer people speaking at things like this. I think that there should be a specific line for people with wheelchairs or who have a disability in terms of sight, so that people wouldn’t bump into them. There also should be crowd control, light control, and noise control for neurodivergent people.” — Linh (they/them)
“I’m here to support the community. I’m a straight ally. I think people are equal, so I hope people in my community and other communities can have the same rights. They have the right to do what they love.” — Anna (she/her)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.