Back Stories » Hanoi » Be Gay, Do Pride: Hanoi Pride Week Ends on Cheery Notes Last Sunday

Be Gay, Do Pride: Hanoi Pride Week Ends on Cheery Notes Last Sunday

Last Sunday, Hanoi Pride Week 2022 came to a conclusion with thousands of people joining in the festivities.

Young Hanoians decked out in rainbow.

The theme of Pride this year is “Knock knock! It’s love!” Trần Nhật Quang, an organizer of the event, said they chose this theme because after so much mass closure during the last two years of COVID-19, it’s time to open up.

Quang shared: “I think growing up, an LGBT person might close a lot of doors to create their own space. It is safe, but also very lonely. So when we open up, we also invite others to come into our rooms. And I hope that by stepping in, there is more chance for understanding and connection, and we can keep walking together.”

Among the booths at Hanoi Pride is a sexual health clinic offering free STD tests and PrEP.

The event began at the American Club, where people took check-in photos, played games, and created art. NGOs, embassies, and businesses also had booths to show their support. There was even a clinic offering free sexual health tests. Overall, the mood was that of a community finally reunited after years of separation.

“After two years of Covid and we cannot have Pride offline,” Lương Thế Huy, the Director of the Institute for Research on Society, Economics, and Environment (iSEE) shared. “It is wonderful to see such a lively atmosphere. The happiness is still intact, growing even.”

Apart from the rainbow flag, revelers wave a range of other paraphernalia signifying other communities like asexuality and transgenderism as well.

Huy said he came here not just as an organizer but a member of the community. “There are people whom I see at every Pride. Even though I don’t know their names, I remember their smiles, their shape, their gazes. Today I see them here; it's the special happiness of seeing old friends again.”

iSEE was one of the 12 organizations that co-created Hanoi Pride 2022. The event also received many international sponsorships, from Tinder to the European Union. Speaking as a co-sponsor, the French ambassador Nicolas Warnery said that they were very happy to be present and contributed.

“Gender and LGBTQI+ rights are one of the most important fields in human rights. France is committed to support it all over the world and here, too. The fact that this event can take place peacefully on a Sunday afternoon in the heart of Hanoi proves to us that the Vietnamese government is following this with great attention.”

Around 5pm, the crowd slowly moved from the American club and paraded around Hoàn Kiếm Lake. This being in Vietnam, the organizers were careful to remind people beforehand that this was not a protest or a march of any kind, just a group of people walking together to support the LGBT community. People were warned not to raise any signs above their heads, or display the Vietnamese flag next to the rainbow one.

And so thousands of people flooded the streets of Đinh Tiên Hoàng and Lê Thái Tổ and spirits were high. The rainbow flew everywhere. At many points there were chants of “Pê đê! Pê đê!” — once a derogatory term for homosexual people, it's now shouted with solidarity and pride.

Hanoi Pride 2022 witnessed overwhelming support from both local and international communities. Seeing the people here, one could not help but feel a shift in society writ large. And perhaps this writer is being too optimistic, but it seems that shift being institutionalized through laws such as same-sex marriage is not a question of if, but when.

Happy Pride!

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