A month ago, rose ceremony footage from The Bachelor Vietnam went viral, showing contestant Minh Thu declaring love for fellow contestant Truc Nhu. “I went into this competition to find love," Minh Thu told the bachelor, at her final rose ceremony, "But I’ve found that love for myself. But it isn’t you." Minh Thu, in tears, immediately turned to Truc Nhu and asked her go home with her, coming out to Vietnam and to the world at large.
Though the video shows Truc Nhu agreeing to leave, she decided to stay on the show to fully pursue her relationship with the bachelor and to take "time separately to actually consider our feelings," Truc Nhu explained over Skype. But the two women could not stay apart from one another. As soon as Truc Nhu left the show, the couple reunited—Minh Thu even picked her up from the airport—and they began officially dating. Now, they live together, and are "taking care of each other like family," Minh Thu said. This is the second same-sex relationship to come out of the Bachelor franchise.
I spoke to Truc Nhu and Minh Thu over Skype (translated by producer Annie Huỳnh Anh), and asked them about their relationship, how it felt to come out in Vietnam, and what they hope to achieve in the future:
VICE: How did you first meet?
Truc Nhu: When we first met we didn’t like each other. It stayed that way until we were randomly arranged to stay in the same room—and then everything changed. I got the room first, and then Minh Thu came later. When she came to the room and knocked on the door I looked out and saw this princess-looking girl and thought, “Okay, I’ll let you wait for a little bit.”
Minh Thu: I had to knock three times, until Truc Nhu said, “How long have you been waiting?”
Truc Nhu: So we started sharing a room together. I’m a pretty straightforward person, and I told Minh Thu, “We’re staying together, if there’s anything you don’t like about me or if you’re not happy with the situation then you should tell me, so we don’t have to tell others about our business.”
Minh Thu: I was a bit shy and said, “Okay, got you.” That’s how it started.
Truc Nhu: There were also a lot of random moments, where we were next to each other. Even in the casting lounge, for some reason we were always next to each other, even though we did not know each other at all. If you have a look at our casting video, you can see that we were right there. But we didn’t know that we would be chosen. We didn’t know each other.
When did you start to fall for each other?
Minh Thu: In the second episode, Truc Nhu was in the bottom two and she was the last one whose name was called, so I got really emotional because I was scared that she was going to go home. That was when I started to realize we had feelings for each other. In episode three, I got freaked out, and behind the camera I started crying because I was afraid Truc Nhu would be going home. I asked myself, “Why was I crying so much in this situation? Why do I care so much for this girl?”
Truc Nhu: When I saw Minh Thu crying so much for me I was very surprised.
Did the other contestants notice your budding romance?
At that moment in episode two and episode three, no one really noticed anything. At episode four, two thirds of the contestants went out for filming, and the rest stayed behind. There were five or six girls. The contestants who stayed behind started to pay attention, wondering why we were so close to each other. Something—it wasn’t only friendship going on. People started to notice.
Truc Nhu, how did it feel to have Minh Thu declare her feelings for you at the rose ceremony?
When we were filming that rose ceremony, when Minh Thu was telling our bachelor her feelings, I was in the back and I couldn’t hear anything. I didn’t know what was going on in the front until Minh Thu turned around, came to me, and asked me to come home. I was very surprised, I didn’t understand what was going on, because I really couldn’t hear anything happening in the front. My emotions were like, “so, Minh Thu is going home—I want to go home too.” I didn’t have much motivation to stay anymore. Yeah, I wanted to go home with her. It was just that simple.
But you stayed for two more episodes. Why did you decide to stay?
There are a couple reasons I decided to stay. First, our bachelor misunderstood Minh Thu and her actions—he thought she wasn’t being a good friend, trying to take me away from an opportunity. I was thinking that I needed to do something to show him that Minh Thu was not a bad friend, and that this wasn’t for attention. The bachelor also told me after episode four that he realized he didn’t have enough time to get to know me as much as he wanted to, and that he’d love for me to say.
Minh Thu: After that, I convinced Truc Nhu to stay and not go home with me anymore. We needed some time separately to actually consider our feelings. Whether they were real.
How did you get in touch after the show was over?
I came to the airport to pick Truc Nhu up!
What was it like seeing each other at the airport?
Truc Nhu: Very happy. Right at the airport we had mixed emotions. We were happy to see each other again and we realized how much we missed each other.
Minh Thu: But we had concerns. We were thinking about what was going to happen and what everyone around us would think. How would our families accept it? How would we actually get to know each other?
Truc Nhu: Minh Thu is quite young. She’s 20, and I was concerned if this was was a spontaneous, spur of the moment feeling. She’s young and open to new things. But we spent time together and got to know each other.
And you live together now, right? How is it?
Minh Thu: We’re having a lot of fun and we’re taking care of each other like family. Usually, when a couple wants something, they’ll fight for it. “Let me have it.” With us, it’s the other way around. If there’s anything nice, I want her to have it, pushing it that way until we actually fight. Like, “Here’s a nice piece of steak—you should have it. No, you should have it.” And we end up fighting about that.
What is your favorite thing about each other?
Truc Nhu: Minh Thu is a very smart woman, and she’s very active. At the same time she can be arrogant, but it’s in a cute way. There’s a limit to it, and she knows where to stop. She makes life very interesting.
Minh Thu: And Truc Nhu is very wise and mature, and she knows how to handle people, and how to deal with people in a nice way. She has a kind heart and is an honest person.
How does it feel to come out in Vietnam, and how does it feel for your story to get international attention?
Everyone around us was very supportive. Our friends and family, and everyone who actually knows us were very supportive. We’ve talked to our parents, aunts and uncles, and they understand. When I first went home from the show, I thought about how I would tell my family.
Truc Nhu: Our friends think we’re cute.
Minh Thu: Our fans, the people on the internet, have mostly been positive.
Truc Nhu: There has been negative feedback, but it’s very rare and we don’t care about it. In the big picture, we’ve been received well in Vietnam. We didn’t see the international exposure coming, and we were very surprised to have this kind of attention. We understand that in the west, culture is more open, and it makes me feel like it’s easier to share with the world. Locally, in Vietnam, if people know they know—but if they don’t know they don’t ask. I wouldn’t go into the world and shout, “This is my girlfriend.”
What are you hoping for in the future?
Minh Thu: [Laughing] I want to look for a job in America, and we’d have to go together and work together.
Truc Nhu: I’m looking forward to a day in the future where local Vietnamese people would have a more open mind to really support us, and let us be ourselves. We’re both still young and we both work in the creative industry—we want to give our best to our work. We want to work hard so our families can see that the path we’ve chosen makes us happy. We also want to be able to support our families, and make a good life.
Correction 10/16: The article previously incorrectly named executive producer Anh Tran as the translator.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.