n34fjr-b8815029z.120140327174535000gb710lo4.10United States: A gay-rights activist in the Vietnamese community who made an ambitious statement on freedom in America through a kiss  has died in California after a long illness. He was 45.

Quan Nguyen garnered wide attention when photographers captured him kissing Bob Tucker his partner during a 2010 Tet Festival parade, reports ocregister.com.

The photograph rivaled that of the iconic V Day kiss in New York at the end of the Second World War.

The ocregister.com described Nguyen as an ardent gay-rights activist in the Vietnamese community who made an ambitious statement on freedom in America through a kiss.

In 2010, Tet Festival organizers allowed a contingent of those in the gay Vietnamese community to march in the parade, with one condition: that they didn’t show affection and emotion, because organizers feared upsetting the more conservative members of the Vietnamese community.

But during the parade, with Tucker clutching an American flag, Nguyen and Tucker kissed anyway.

“Showing a desire for freedom, especially with who you love, is an American idea,” Tucker said. “So we decided to kiss and the photographers caught it. (Nguyen) was very proud of that moment.”

Nguyen and Tucker drew widespread attention and notoriety for kissing during the parade.

The photo of that famous kiss by an interracial gay couple, taken by a photographer for the Orange County Register, went viral and was used by right-wing Vietnamese groups to lobby against allowing gay people to march.

It was only last month that organizers of the annual Tet parade caved in to civil liberties concerns and officially ended the ban on gay and lesbian marchers forever.

Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, is the most important celebration of Vietnamese culture.

As an “out” gay Vietnamese man, Nguyen wrote his Masters Thesis about the LGBT revolution that began at the New York City Stonewall Inn in 1969.

Nguyen and his partner traveled to New York in 1994 for the 25th Anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion where he met and interviewed many of the early LGBT civil rights advocates of the time. He was in awe of their courage and carried that torch forward in his own life, writes legacy.com

He was also very proud of the young Vietnamese LGBT activists who picked up the torch again to ensure LGBT inclusion in the Tet Parade.

Nguyen was diagnosed with encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, in 2009 and his health deteriorated in recent months. He died of heart failure at home March 18. About 80 people attended his service, reports ocregister.com.

The former UC Irvine computer analyst lived with Tucker, his partner of 23 years.

Nguyen was born March 9, 1969, in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), in what was then South Vietnam.

After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Nguyen’s family made many attempts to flee the country. When Nguyen was in the fourth grade, in 1979, he escaped to Malaysia and immigrated to San Jose.

Nguyen is survived by Tucker, 58; his mother, brother, cousin and extended family.

Source: ocregister.com; legacy.com