Filmmaker Has Taken On a Taboo Subject


Peter Pham, who helped put together the Asian/Pacific American Film and Video Festival starting today at UC Irvine, is a young filmmaker in the middle of a difficult project: documenting the local Asian-American gay culture.

That wasn’t Pham’s original plan.

The 21-year-old UCI film student had only wanted to learn more about the beating of Loc Minh Truong last January in Laguna Beach. Authorities said Truong, 53, of Costa Mesa, was the victim of a hate crime because his attackers thought he was homosexual.

“I was trying to know about the beating but soon found my efforts turning into an exploration of homosexuality,” Pham explained. “It was interesting because the Vietnamese community hasn’t been supportive or responsive. He (Truong) wouldn’t even talk to me, his family didn’t want him to.”


By using the beating as a dramatic starting point, Pham began recording interviews with Vietnamese homosexuals as they talked about their experiences, both at home and on the streets. He questioned more than a dozen men, learning that “the pressures on them are extreme.”

“I found that there isn’t even a term for homosexuality in Vietnamese,” said Pham, who is Vietnamese-American. “It’s not even in the Vietnamese consciousness. Just think how hard it must be for them to face this.”

So far, Pham, who lives in Costa Mesa, has shot about 20 minutes of film, the first part of a project that could become a full-length feature. After editing this beginning footage, Pham will turn his camera on the Cambodian and Laotian communities. The finished documentary would be offered to independent movie festivals, he said.