Gay art exhibition tours Hanoi schools

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An exhibition portraying the lives and loves of the gay community in Vietnam is touring Hanoi universities and colleges through the end of May.

The exhibition, titled "Open," features 35 photos, paintings and installations aiming at helping visitors gain a deeper understanding of gender and homosexuality.

For example, one series portrays men who eat the "forbidden apples" but later can still find love at the end.

In another series titled "Crossroads," traffic signs were used as a metaphor to illustrate the internal struggle of gay men, who are under pressure to go "straight."

Huynh Minh Thao, an organizing member of the Information Connecting and Sharing (ICS) network, said the exhibition received an overwhelming amount of responses from visitors and students. About 6,000 viewers have visited so far.

"The images in this exhibition contain the messages that the young members of the third gender community want to deliver," Thao said.

The gay community in Vietnam prefers to be called "gioi tinh thu ba" or "the third gender."

"We want to encourage a better and more open minded in the general public about gays and homosexuality. Homosexuals also lead positive lives that contribute to the better of society."

Co-organized by the ICS network, a voluntary group that advocates homosexual rights and promotes their constructive images, the exhibition has made stops at five universities in Hanoi in April and one in Ho Chi Minh City last November.

It also toured the Vietnam National Academy of Music and the Banking Academy earlier this week and will stop at the Foreign Trade University on May 15 and 16.

Organizers also plan to bring the exhibition to universities in the central Da Nang City.

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