LGBT rights and recognition are relatively new to Vietnam, with the first Pride parade taking place in 2012. But acceptance is growing fast, and Hanoi’s Pride week took place from Sept. 16-22 this year, seeing a slew of events across the city emphasizing education, tolerance and love.
One of the events this year is an artistic and educational display about LGBT deaf people held by a German cultural organization, The Goethe Institut, in Ba Đình. The “Experience Space: Touch in Sound” exhibition delves into the difficulties that not only LGBT people, but deaf people face on a day-to-day basis.
Understanding these difficulties, one can see the hardships faced by this minority – being within the LGBT group, but unable to always effectively communicate within the group. The exhibition not only explores their difficulties, but also their beauty, strength and progress towards equality. Now, with the help of LGBT deaf leaders, an LGBT group for deaf people has been created and is continuing to grow.
“My first kiss was with a boy. I felt thrilled. That is why I fall in love with boys. “
The exhibition consists of two rooms. In one, a photo series of deaf people in Vietnam is showcased, while the other contains several laptops playing videos of interviews conducted with LGBT deaf people describing their experiences.
In the first room, photographers Linh (who is partially blind) and My have created a series of photographs revolving around the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. The photos focus on colors and hands, illuminating the experience of being LGBT and deaf. Quotes from the subjects are placed beside the photos. One set, in yellow, shows a glimpse of a young boy and reads: “I love yellow. My first kiss was with a boy. I felt thrilled. That is why I fall in love with boys.” In the evening, members of the LGBT Deaf Society host an open conversation with the public to answer their questions.
The second room takes you into the lives of LGBT deaf people, the struggles they have endured and the strength they have acquired. All of this is told through their own words, signed with subtitles on the screen.
Everyone involved in this project has worked hard to give a voice to a minority often overlooked in mainstream Vietnamese society. As support for LGBT grows in Vietnam, inclusion and respect continues to become more mainstream. Educational projects such as this are just one of the many tools being used to promote tolerance and love an increasingly modern and outward-looking country.