Being Queer in Vietnam

Being Queer in Vietnam

Vietnam is a beautiful country filled with amazing culture, breathtaking nature, delicious food, and kind people. However, Vietnam is not the most progressive country out there. Like many countries, being a lesbian or being queer in Vietnam is still seen as a taboo due to traditional and outdated beliefs.

Zoey and I moved to Vietnam to teach English about a month ago. We live in Hanoi now, but we have both traveled the entire coast of Vietnam in the past. We both spent a month traveling from Sapa and Halong Bay all the way down to Saigon. So I guess you could say, we have some experience being queer in Vietnam. Here are our thoughts on being queer in Vietnam. This is inclusive of our experience as a single lesbian traveler in Vietnam, a lesbian couple living and working in Vietnam, and lesbian couple traveling in  Vietnam.

  • Where can I meet other lesbians?

We’ve found it easiest to find other lesbians and queer girls in the hostels and guesthouses we stay at. If you’re looking to meet local lesbians, it might be a little harder. There’s no real LGBTQ community in Vietnam, or maybe there is, but it’s just super underground because we have no heard of it. Like I said, being queer is not something they often talk about in Vietnam. There’s no LGBTQ pride events, no lesbians bars, no lesbian clubs, and no lesbian nights in any of the local venues. Zoey and I have decided to start a bit of a movement on Facebook to gather the LGBTQ community in Hanoi, we will let you know how it goes. Stay tuned…

  • Is there any lesbian bars, venues, or events?

Sadly, no. A google search for “lesbians bars in Hanoi” has led us to nothing. Maybe we’ll find something if we look using Vietnamese instead of English or maybe we need a super secret password from the LGBTQ administration worldwide headquarters, who knows?

UPDATE: After some Facebook investigation, it turns out that there are actually quite a few LGBTQ friendly bars, clubs, and venues in Hanoi. I suppose I looked in all the wrong places. There is also an LGBT Viet Pride Event that has been taking place since 2012. How cool is that? I can’t wait to check it out this year! There is still no update on lesbian bars or events so let’s hope we can find some soon enough.

  • How easy/hard was it for us to find other lesbians?

When Zoey and I were traveling alone in Vietnam, we did meet a couple of other lesbian travelers but honestly, it’s really hard to meet other lesbians in Vietnam. Hopefully our Facebook efforts can help connect lesbians and other members of the LGBTQ community. We need to simplify the way we meet other LGBTQ people, not just to date, but to build friendships with people who we share common interests with us.

  • How do locals feel about being gay? Is it accepted? Is it shamed upon?

To be honest, Zoey and I have found it very easy being a lesbian couple in Vietnam. People don’t seem to even notice. Maybe it’s because we are foreigners or maybe it’s because girls holding hands and hugging are common forms of affection in Vietnamese culture. I don’t know. I must say though, when we tell people that we are a couple, they still have some difficulty wrapping their heads around it, but we have never experienced any negativity after telling people. According to some of our Vietnamese friends, it’s only a problem being queer if you’re Vietnamese, as it is shamed upon within their own culture. However, they are indifferent about queer tourists. Basically, they mind their own business, which works for us.

  • Did we feel comfortable being ourselves or do we have to hide our relationship/sexuality?

We feel very comfortable being a lesbian couple in Vietnam. We have never had a problem and people don’t seem to even notice. They don’t even look twice when we kiss in public, it’s really nice for a change actually. As you may know, lesbians seem to get a lot of unwanted attention but not in Vietnam. The only time we do hide our relationship is when we are at work, we work with children and we want to avoid questions and problems with parents. Otherwise, we always feel comfortable being ourselves.

  • Final thoughts and feelings about the city/country.

We love Vietnam. We love everything about it (except the pollution) but we would encourage anyone to visit to Vietnam. Vietnam is very tourist friendly which also makes it a very queer friendly place. People don’t seem to notice or care who you’re kissing, so come be as gay as you want in Vietnam! You’ll be A-ok.

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