Dr. Huy Nguyen hadn’t yet settled his sense of sexual orientation when he and Vincent Quan met in 2013, at the birthday party of a mutual friend in New York.
The soiree was at a gay bar, and for Dr. Nguyen, even walking through the door of such a place was a first. He was nervous.
“I was not out yet, not even to myself,” he said.
But when he spotted Mr. Quan, he couldn’t stop looking. “I really didn’t want to keep looking at him, but my eyes just kept wandering back, and I knew I had to meet him,” he said.
Mr. Quan said the conversational gambit Dr. Nguyen chose was awkward.
“He just came up to the table that I was lingering over, and my distinct memory is that he tried to interject by asking what my thoughts were about Photoshop,” Mr. Quan said.
Even so, Mr. Quan said, “When I first saw him, I was immediately drawn to him.”
They continued talking and eventually the two left the party together, and shared their first kiss that night.
Dr. Nguyen, now 31, was a medical student at Columbia at the time. He is now a second-year fellow in vitreoretinal eye surgery at the hospitals and clinics of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and in San Jose, Calif. He graduated from Harvard.
Mr. Quan, now 32, is the associate director for policy in the North American operations of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, a research center of the M.I.T. that focuses on poverty-reduction programs; he works from the couple’s home in South San Francisco, Calif. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and received a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia.
After the two met, Dr. Nguyen soon found himself facing a sort of crucible. “The more I saw him, the more I felt this was right — for me,” Dr. Nguyen said.
And, yet, a month and a half after the two met, they agreed not to see each other any longer. “I wasn’t ready yet,” Dr. Nguyen said.
“It was in that moment that I also realized I was in love with him,” Mr. Quan said.
The rupture in their nascent relationship was short lived — four days, Dr. Nguyen says — and their connection was repaired when Dr. Nguyen crashed a party that he knew Mr. Quan would be at, and then spirited him off to another bar to talk.
“It was a little dramatic,” Dr. Nguyen said. “We escaped from the party, went to a nearby bar, and I told him for the first time — to myself as well — ‘I’m gay. I want you to be with me.’ I said ‘I love you’ for the first time.”
“Almost seven years later, it’s crazy looking back at that turbulent time,” Mr. Quan said.
On July 18, the couple were married at the Fifth Rooftop Restaurant and Bar in Anaheim, Calif. Dr. Nguyen’s sister, Dr. Tu-Anh Nguyen, officiated, having become a Universal Life minister for the event. The couple had originally planned to be married last year, but then put the marriage off after the death of Mr. Quan’s father. Their postponed plans, for a wedding in June with 180 guests, were then also canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The couple found, as they navigated life’s tribulations — both men came fully out to their families, and both lost their fathers unexpectedly, too, in the course of their relationship — that getting through those times together helped their relationship flourish.
“He really supported me in every single way possible, when my dad died last year,” Mr. Quan said. “I myself had to be the rock for my family. And he was my rock.”