It happened exactly as it sounds. On March 11th, East Side Arts Alliance was filled with queer and trans Vietnamese individuals and allies, ages 16 through 75. We feasted on handmade spring rolls, fried rice,
banh bot loc (Vietnamese tapioca dumplings), and fish sauce chicken wings. Of course there was QTViet Cafe’s signature pandan waffles toasting through the waffle iron. We resisted through our poems, our songs, and our cooking. Above all, we witnessed each other as our authentics selves and after four hours, parts of our traumas were healed.

QTViet Cafe envisions a cultural hub for queer and trans Vietnamese artists through special food and drink fusions. When we started planning for the Intergenerational Feast of Resistance, we knew there would be healing involved through the process, but no one anticipated the event would be so groundbreaking. In preparation for the feast, four “cooking hubs” were hosted throughout the Bay Area: San Jose, Oakland, and Vallejo. At these cooking hubs, four Vietnamese mothers whipped out their pots and pans to teach queer and trans Vietnamese youth (18-35) how to make Vietnamese food. In Vietnamese culture, food is everything: storytelling, values-building, and skill sharing. It is a rare feat to have queer and trans Vietnamese youth come home to reconnect in this intimate tradition of cooking and eating.

The young queer and trans Vietnamese folks bravely invited their parents to show up on the day of the feast, in the cultural heart of East Oakland: East Side Arts Alliance. The intergenerational open mic was filled with karaoke, stand-up comedy, and poetry — it was a grown-up talent show. The elders shared their support for the LGBTQ community: “We love you all because you are our future and we’re proud of your community involvement.” Younger queer and trans Vietnamese individuals gaped at how affirming our parents, aunties, and grandmas were.

“It gave me hope to see elders my mom’s age talking about black solidarity and LGBTQ acceptance. It’s a lot to process because you don’t usually get to see this.” QTViet Cafe is also hopeful that through art, culture, and storytelling, these intergenerational bonds will continue to chisel down the layers of colonization and war trauma.

 

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