by Amanda Ong
On Saturday, June 4, VietQ, a grassroots org that supports Vietnamese LGBTQ+ people, will hold its third annual Queer and Trans BIPOC (QTBIPOC) market in Seward Park from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. VietQ’s market will likely be the largest market of exclusively queer, trans, and BIPOC vendors to ever have been in Seattle. Their market last year was the largest QTBIPOC-centered market to have come to Seattle at the time, and they have since grown from 45 vendors to almost 70 vendors participating this year.
“There’s gonna be a lot of variety of different goods that our community’s going to have available,” said Dao Tran, a VietQ member in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. “[There will be] art, clothing, jewelry, food, all kinds of stuff.”
A majority of their vendors this year will be past vendors who have joined for all three of their markets. VietQ has waived any vendor fees traditionally needed to participate in markets, allowing for greater accessibility and lower barriers for QTBIPOC businesses. They also promote their vendors with marketing for the event and aim to be intentional about growing awareness for these businesses. This has led to a diverse community of vendors who are not often included in other markets, many of whom are just starting their own businesses.
“It’s been a really great way to just see their business grow, because a lot of these vendors are really honestly like starting from scratch,” Tran Tonnu, another VietQ board member, said in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. “Having folks come and buy their stuff has created a lot of excitement for [our vendors] and their businesses. And now [these vendors are] coming back to join us for the next market.”
VietQ’s support has made waves of difference for their community members. From their last market, one of their vendors was able to sell enough at the event that they were able to get their business license from the profits that they made.
“I had longed for, as a young person, who is queer, trans, and Vietnamese, a space to see queer trans Vietnamese folks organizing in our intersectional identities, as complicated as it is,” Tonnu said. “And a lot of the stuff that VietQ has been doing the last three, four years has been very organic, just responding to what the community is looking for. If the market wasn’t a success, we wouldn’t have continued it. But it has been something that the community has come back to.”
This year’s market will also include a partnership with the Refuge Outdoor Festival, a camping festival geared towards getting BIPOC into the outdoors.
“[We] were very intentional of where we had our market and where these events take place, because they are spaces that have always had a lot of People of Color and have always had a lot of queer joy,” Tony Vo, board member and founding member of VietQ, said in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. “And so we’re taking up spaces that we’ve always been in and just reclaiming that. So partnering up with [Refuge Outdoor Festival] makes sense, because it’s promoting People of Color and the outdoors. And we’re trying to promote more queer and trans, BIPOC businesses by hosting these BIPOC markets outdoors as well.”
Organized by VietQ board members Tran Tonnu, Tony Vo, Dao Tran, Kendy Trinh, Lana Pham, Kay Pham, and Tran Pham, the QTBIPOC market is an extension of the founding mission of VietQ — to make community spaces for queer and trans Vietnamese folks. “Oftentimes, there are queer spaces, and then there are Vietnamese spaces,” Vo said. “And in Washington, there just has never been a space where both identities have been celebrated. A lot of us are first- or second-generation Vietnamese Americans and so having those spaces to explore our identities while understanding our culture was something that we wanted to celebrate and honor.”
VietQ has previously held their first conference in 2020, right before the pandemic started. Since the pandemic, however, VietQ’s board has shifted methods to continue helping people find connections. “We did a virtual event series for celebrating New Year’s, Tet,” Tran said. “But besides that, we’ve also launched our COVID financial support for folks who needed a little bit of cash. We also launched Name Change to support people who needed to change their name and needed some financial support around that.”
VietQ has also hosted two pop-ups last summer and started a dance group that teaches Vietnamese traditional dancing but allows for much more queer expressions of gender, eschewing away from traditional expectations of clothing and dance leads based on gender. “We’re just hoping to create a space for folks to express themselves and be able to participate in Vietnamese traditions in our own way,” Tran said.
The market is not only supported by the community, but hopefully can imbue the community with a sense of the love and inclusion that VietQ is founded on.
“I hope folks who attend are moved by the spirit of generosity from supporting our QTBIPOC businesses,” Tonnu said. “To [fill] the space with a lot of joy as we’re getting together still during the pandemic, and with a lot of things happening right now in the world to be here together in this moment. [The market] feels really special.”
VietQ’s QTBIPOC market will be Saturday, June 4, at Seward Park, 5898 Lake Washington Blvd S.
Editors’ Note: A previous version of this article misattributed a quote to Tony Vo, and this article was updated on 06/06/2022 to correctly attribute the quote to Tran Tonnu.
Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.
📸 Featured Image: VietQ, an organization that promotes and connects the Vietnamese LGBTQ+ community, is putting on what’s likely the largest showcase of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (QTBIPOC) vendors on Saturday, June 4, 2022. Pictured: VietQ’s market in 2021. (Photo: Dao Tran)
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