Trang Tran is bringing LGBTQ Vietnamese people closer with their loved ones through traditional cuisine.
In 2016, the advocate founded QTViet Cafe. With events like the Intergenerational Feast of Resistance, the Oakland-based, pop-up cafe is a gathering place for LGBTQ Vietnamese people, their families and friends to come together, enjoy a traditional meal and learn from one another.
“It’s our intention to connect with our grandparents or our loved ones that we know — our elders in the community — and they can be queer and LGBT-identified, or allies and supporters that we have been building with,” said Tran, who identifies as non-binary and uses they and them pronouns.
The cafe is more than just a gathering place: It’s a sustainable eatery that uses food sourced from local farmers who are also members of the community. Tran said the cafe serves traditional Vietnamese dishes like bánh tét and banh chung.
“Through food and through community events like the intergenerational feasts that we have, we cook with our elders and learn from them, learn the recipe and archive it so that we can have it and also pass it down to the next generation,” Tran explained.
Tran said the cafe has helped traditional Vietnamese families better understand their LGBTQ-identified children, including Tran’s own family.
“I’m able to have more of conversations with my family around queerness and acceptance,” Tran said.
Born in Saigon, Tran, 27, moved to the Bay area with their family when they were 10 years old. The University of California, Davis grad said creating a space for their community has been an incredible experience.
“I’m definitely not doing it alone,” Tran said. “And I think that is something that, really, you learn, is being able to recognize that how I’m feeling or what I’m feeling, what things that could bring me joy and happiness, as long as I’m able to share it or speak it with others who feel the same, we can connect together and create incredible things together for ourselves and for our loved ones.”
For Tran, "pride" means being able to give and receive love free of limitations "and being able to remember those that created this path where I’m able to love in a way that is free and liberated."