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My wife is from Viet Nam. She's smart and cute and funny.

When she is surprised by something she has a reaction that I can only describe as something you'd see in a Chinese movie, her eyes open wide and she looks at you abruptly and says "Huh?" in a very animated fashion.

This morning she did that when I told her Vietnam holds their first gay pride parade, which the linked Raw Story posting suggests "helps unite the LGBT community".


And occuring coincidentally during the chik-fil-a firestorm, I think it's a BFD.

The first gay pride parade in communist Vietnam took place in the capital Hanoi on Sunday with dozens of cyclists displaying balloons and rainbow flags streaming through the city’s streets.

Organised by the city’s small but growing Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, the event went ahead peacefully with no attempt by police to stop the colourful convoy of about 100 activists despite their lack of official permission.

“There was no intervention which is a good thing for Vietnam,” said one of the organisers, Tam Nguyen.

It's a BFD for a couple of reasons.

Viet Nam is a communist country. Really really community. My wife says people largely aren't political and politics is essentially discouraged. The country runs with what I would call something like a Stalinist politburo. So naturally, Viet Nam is severely maligned by our conservative frinds and neighbors and a place place of tyranny and so forth.

And Viet Nam is far from perfect: Communism, to me, is sort of like the 'crack cocaine' of government. Our government is, according to my wife "broken" and it's generally not the best thing ever, but communism seems to just screw up everything it touches.

When I was there in 2004 I noticed that gay lifestyle, at least in the city of Nha Trang, was tolerated without a blink of the eye. I saw a variety of gay couple walking arm in arm, hand in hand.

The BEST sight, though, was at the end of a brief stay on a small island off the coast of VN: we were re-boarding our boat when another boat came up and 'parked' right beside us. That boat was FULL of flamingly gay Vietnamese people. Loud, drunk, dancing, wild-colored hair, piercings. We bantered back and forth a little bit (The people awalys knew I was an American from a mile away and always wanted to try out their English).

I'm not making fun or being bad - they were a scream. I enjoyed the spectacle, my very traditional-valued wife was a little less amused. I told her "Wow. They are just like the gay people in America...except shorter." I told her this was normal in America. The point there is that in the middle of the most foreign of countries the robust expression of gay lifestyle seemed very familiar and not-exotic. And very funny.

The important part of this is that it was occurring in a Communist country, where I thought - and we are told to believe - such personal freedoms were actively discouraged.

Viet Nam is trying to be  a more open country, they, like anybody else, like foreign investment. I say they are Communist on the outside and capitalists on the inside.

Next, the fact they are reporting they did this without a permit and without antagonism from the police.  I think that is a huge distinction from over here in the land of the free.

When I was in Saigon, I was asked to come down to the desk to talk to a man, who I surmised was secret police. He asked some hardball questions about wht I was doing in Viet Nam and what I did for a living in the America. I told him I was something like a social worker. He looked at me, like a PI from a 1960's movie, I swear -  and gruffly replied "Me too".

The police in Viet Nam aren't to be messed with. Sure, they can be bribed a lot of times, but should that not work, they don't have the same constraints of a constitition like ours. And there are no jury trials. So, agaim, the fact that this was tolerated unpermitted in a communist country and tolerated well by the constabulary, it sets a very good example for Viet Nam and other countries.

Granted, Viet Nam has a long way to go to be accidentally mistaken for America, but at the rate things are going here, this is an example for us of what democracy looks like.

I thought this was awesome and wanted to share it with people.

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