Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC)

Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC)

VROC stands on the shoulders of previous LGBTQ+ Vietnamese American activist groups in Orange County and is part of that legacy. When VROC was rejected from participating in the 2013 Tết Parade in Little Saigon, the parade organizers stated, being “LGBT is not part of Vietnamese culture.” VROC embodies and

Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC)

VROC stands on the shoulders of previous LGBTQ+ Vietnamese American activist groups in Orange County and is part of that legacy. When VROC was rejected from participating in the 2013 Tết Parade in Little Saigon, the parade organizers stated, being “LGBT is not part of Vietnamese culture.” VROC embodies and uplifts the different multiple intersectional identities that queer, trans Vietnamese Americans have, as well as the issues that they may face because of them. VROC is a trusted organization within the community with a strong racial lens. We are able to look at issues both on a systems, community, and individual level and understand how all the different levels interact and affect each other, as we have advocacy and direct service experience. VROC embodies the deep understanding of intersectional experiences and grassroots power building, while being grounded in values of equity, healing, joy, and social justice. VROC embraces exploration, new approaches and methods, and learning how to be better through trying and testing things out. The current leadership at VROC has public health, social work, research, academic, community organizing, teaching, and fund development experience. Our board of directors is comprised of all queer Vietnamese Americans and our staff is 100% queer APIs. Starting from mid-2020, VROC was able to move from being an all-volunteer organization to being an organization with staff in order to provide more consistency in our work. Our staff in different areas along health and racial equity issues prior to their time at VROC. We deeply value working collaboratively and sharing resources – often collaborating with other local partners from different sectors in the OC network of nonprofits.

About the Organization:

VROC stands on the shoulders of previous LGBTQ+ Vietnamese American activist groups in Orange County and is part of that legacy. When VROC was rejected from participating in the 2013 Tết Parade in Little Saigon, the parade organizers stated, being “LGBT is not part of Vietnamese culture.” VROC embodies and uplifts the different multiple intersectional identities that queer, trans Vietnamese Americans have, as well as the issues that they may face because of them. VROC is a trusted organization within the community with a strong racial lens. We are able to look at issues both on a systems, community, and individual level and understand how all the different levels interact and affect each other, as we have advocacy and direct service experience. VROC embodies the deep understanding of intersectional experiences and grassroots power building, while being grounded in values of equity, healing, joy, and social justice. VROC embraces exploration, new approaches and methods, and learning how to be better through trying and testing things out. The current leadership at VROC has public health, social work, research, academic, community organizing, teaching, and fund development experience. Our board of directors is comprised of all queer Vietnamese Americans and our staff is 100% queer APIs. Starting from mid-2020, VROC was able to move from being an all-volunteer organization to being an organization with staff in order to provide more consistency in our work. Our staff in different areas along health and racial equity issues prior to their time at VROC. We deeply value working collaboratively and sharing resources – often collaborating with other local partners from different sectors in the OC network of nonprofits.

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

6-10 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

Arizona • California • District of Columbia • Georgia • Louisiana • Nevada • North Carolina • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Texas • Virginia • Washington

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

6-10 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

Arizona • California • District of Columbia • Georgia • Louisiana • Nevada • North Carolina • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Texas • Virginia • Washington

The Issue:

Orange County, CA is home to the largest group of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam, with over 230,000 Vietnamese residents. Vietnamese people comprise 7.5% of the estimated 3.1 million people in OC and about 30.2% of the total Asian population in OC. Although disaggregated data on LGBTQ+ Vietnamese American are limited, there are an estimated 31,000 lesbian, gay, and bisexual and 22,000 transgender Asian Americans living in OC.
Prior to the pandemic, the CDC estimated that about 262,000 LGBT Californians experienced social and physical isolation, risk factors for suicide and poor social well-being. Data specific to OC is grossly limited, and even then, county-specific data from health systems have yet to document the specific needs of LGBTQ+ Vietnamese immigrants, refugees, and their children. Existing on the margins, LGBTQ+ and Vietnamese immigrant communities in OC experience health inequities such as housing, food, and economic insecurity, which all have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
Resources and services for LGBTQ+ individuals in OC, CA are still predominantly focused on white, cis gay individuals. In addition, there still is stigma in communities of color towards LGBTQ+ individuals. Starting in 2019, VROC conducted its own community needs assessment to better understand the ever shifting landscape of challenges and needs for LGBTQ+ communities of color. What we found was a need for more opportunities for intergenerational dialogue & healing, community building, and political education.
VROC honors the intersection of being a LGBTQ+ person of color in OC and demands for inclusion and the fullness of our humanity as queer/trans people of color. We often have held the bittersweet honor of being a first for many queer folks of color in OC– first time being in a safe, intersectional space in OC; first time seeing an elder queer person of their community, first time feeling seen. In order to build a future outside queerphobia, transphobia, white supremacy and racism in OC, we need more opportunities to not only survive, but thrive, and build towards a future beyond what we can imagine.

The Solution:

Youth mentorship and leadership development has always been a backbone to VROC’s work. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, VROC has provided LGBTQ high school students of color living in OC a safe space to develop their leadership skills, build community with like minded peers, and learn mental health skills. Through this program, participants were able to learn about various social justice issues, explore their leadership style and learn to organize, and build healthy mental health habits.
In order to bridge different queer generations, VROC is embarking on an oral history project envisions that grounds us in connection, belonging, and possibility across the spectrum of queer and trans Viet experience. Through this project, we will be able to connect the pasts and presents of our community in order to build towards a healing and vibrant future. We believe in oral history as a tool to rupture silences, to bridge across generations, to imagine what was and can be possible, and to be seen, heard, and cared for through storytelling.
This year, our youth leaders will be helping us build an oral history collection of queer and trans Viet experiences. By having our young leaders help build our community archive, we will be able to create community connections through the similarities and differences within the queer and trans Viet experience and foster learning from and with each other. Through connecting our youth leaders to our elders, we are able to uplift the multiple realities that exist for queer and trans Viets and honor the community relationships that keep us safe, strong, and nourished.

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