Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen has talked at length about his identity as a Vietnamese refugee.  But it wasn’t until a town hall meeting this weekend that he publicly addressed another aspect of his identity: his sexual orientation.

At the public forum Sunday afternoon to host the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, Nguyen thanked the ambassador, Ted Osius, as a gay man himself, for his influence as an openly gay ambassador in the Vietnamese capitol of Hanoi.

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi ran a rainbow flag beneath the American flag, prompting some controversy.

“I’m really proud of his success as an openly gay man with a biracial family and kids — and how openly admired he is in Vietnam,” said the 35-year-old mayor, after traveling by skateboard Monday night to meet a reporter at a Garden Grove cafe.

Although Nguyen has never made his sexual orientation a topic of public discussion, he says he has always been openly gay.

A image Nguyen posted to his Facebook and Instagram.
A image Nguyen posted to his Facebook and Instagram.

After Sunday’s forum, Nguyen shared his announcement on social media.

Nguyen said that, given the recent Supreme Court ruling and with Osius in the room, the time “just felt right” to mention it.

Osius, who is fluent in Vietnamese, fielded questions in both English and Vietnamese from reporters, local politicians and community members during the forum, which was held at Coastline Community College’s Le-Jao Center.

Nguyen, a Democrat who has only been in office for six months, is also considering a run for Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s 46th Congressional district seat.

Sanchez recently announced her candidacy for the seat of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans on leaving office after the 2016 election. So far, state Sen. Lou Correa and Los Angeles County resident Heberto Sanchez have announced plans to run for Sanchez’s seat.

Nguyen said Monday evening that he hasn’t made up his mind yet.

“Several people have asked me to run…so I want to hear from people what they think,” he said.

Contact Thy Vo at or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

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