Broadcasting for Progress
If you asked me to translate the word “homosexuality” in Vietnamese, I would be silent. No such word exists. The lack of Vietnamese terminology for homosexual signifies a blatant disregard, or even disdain for gays and lesbians. If no word exists, then you, and your sexual orientation, do not exist. For years, I’ve searched for a way to identify myself within a community. Without a description, a label, an identity, where do I belong?
Despite the obstacles in the Vietnamese community, the fight for LGBT visibility continues. For more than a decade, one woman embodies the Vietnamese LGBT movement. Sixty-six year old, Vuong Nguyen, known to her listeners as “Chi Vuong,” or “Older Sister Vuong,” founded Song That, the first gay and lesbian radio program for Vietnamese listeners. Through her radio show, she has sought to represent a voice for the Viet LGBT community, educating and serving as an advocate.
While I know radio is one of the strongest forms of media to reach the Asian American population, for me, Chi Vuong’s broadcast is different, it hits so much closer to home. Chi Vuong strives to educate and promote awareness of gay and lesbian issues and current events. Her radio show provides a language that enables a dialogue within a culture that lacks the terminology and desire to discuss gay and lesbian issues. Her communication impacts in a bilateral manner – through her broadcast actions and her life. Chi Vuong, a courageous, out woman, symbolically and literally defines homosexuality for a community that has, for so long, avoided the subject.
In January, hundreds of Vietnamese people marched down five city blocks in San Jose, in honor of family, tradition and pride. They were celebrating Tet, the Lunar New Year. Among the American and South Vietnam flags waved a rainbow flag. Forty gays and lesbians marched that day, a testament to Chi Vuong’s dedication and hard work. This event marked a pivotal moment in inclusivity and visibility within a community that has continued to view homosexuality as shameful. Chi Vuong and her show, Song That, has continued to make an impact within the Viet community and the lives of Viet LGBTs around the world. She has actively changed perceptions by giving a voice and a name to gays and lesbians. To acknowledge homosexuality conveys a message of progress and the recognition that we are making a difference — that we are people.
The broadcast is available at www.songthat.com. Chi Vuong broadcasts her hour-long program every Sunday night.
Originally Posted: Mar 2, 2009