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Crosscurrents

How do you say 'I'm gay' in Vietnamese?

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Photo by Ash Ngu / Resized and cropped
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Glossary user Lotus Dao

Finding the words to express ourselves can be tricky. Finding the words to describe our sexual identities, in a second language where some words aren’t fully translatable? That’s even more challenging.

Last summer, staff at Oakland’s Asian Health Services had an idea to create a glossary of LGBTQ terms translated in Burmese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. While the guide was originally meant for doctors and translators, it’s proving useful in other ways as well.  

LOTUS DAO: Whereas I think in the home, like my home, the sort of typical way of communication is very non-verbal. And for me, as a second generation person, that can be very distressing. 'Cause I'm growing up and I'm like, "But I'm a lesbian, dammit!" My mom's like, "Don't talk about it."

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete story.