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Anthropologist sets out to disprove ‘there are no gays in Vietnam’ creed

The war in Vietnam ended in 1975, for some. But for Vietnam’s gay community, it still continues, whether they be at home or abroad. Though the Southeast Asian country recently had its gay pride and the current government is hearing a debate on whether to legalize same-sex marriages, historically and culturally, homosexuality still remains taboo.\n

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21st October 2013 17:39

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

As Dr Natalie Newton, a Vietnamese-American anthropologist whose parents migrated to California, points out, homophobic Vietnamese call homosexuality a Western disease while Westerners called it a Vietnamese disease, specifically during French colonialism of Vietnam.

‘Frenchmen claimed that Vietnamese women were so ugly with blackened teeth from betel nut chewing that this “forced” colonials into engaging in homosexuality under the influence of opium.’

Newton, whose dissertation analyzes how the global LGBT human rights movement interfaces with the local lesbian community in Saigon, has embarked on an online project. The Viet LGBT History Campaign aims to ‘bring visibility to the contributions of LGBTs in Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American history’.

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