In a January 30 press conference in Chinatown’s Chatham Square, a group of L.G.B.T. Asian Americans and their allies announced that for the first time in its eleven-year history, New York’s Lunar New Year Parade will include an openly L.G.B.T. contingent.
Organizers of the effort described it as “a major breakthrough for the visibility of L.G.B.T.Q. people in the Asian-American community,” saying they “hope to draw attention to the ways that homophobia and discrimination continue to divide Asian-American families and communities.”
The contingent is organized by Q-Wave, with the support of the Asian Women’s Giving Circle, Project Reach, CAAAV-Organizing Asian Communities, Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York, the Metropolitan Community Church, Nodutol for Korean Community Development, OCA-New York Chapter, Queer Asian Spirit, Chinatown Youth Initiatives, Barangay, and the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition on H.I.V. and AIDS. It has also been endorsed by prominent Asian Americans including Comptroller John Liu, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, community leader Rocky Chin, journalist Helen Zia, and actor Joan Chen.
Reverend Patrick Cheng of the Metropolitan Community Church, speaking at the press conference, said, “One of my happiest childhood memories was attending the Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco with my family. I can still see the lion and dragon dancers coming down Grant Avenue, hear the drums and music, smell the firecrackers, and taste the yummy dried coconut snacks! For one night each year, we all came together as one big family and showed our ethnic and cultural pride to the city and to the world.”
This year’s Lunar New Year Parade is on February 21 in Chinatown and is expected to draw up to 400,000 spectators.