India’s first openly gay prince has an important message about homosexuality
By Christopher Turner
In 2006, the Crown Prince of one of India’s oldest royal families made an announcement that grabbed headlines around the world: the formerly married Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil was gay. This shocking announcement made Prince Manvendra the world’s only openly gay prince — and it also outraged his community and created conflict within the royal family that is, to this day, not fully reconciled.
Since the initial media firestorm, the Prince has remained determined to live in his truth in a country that condemns homosexuality. Despite the many obstacles he’s been able to fully come to terms with his sexuality and he’s begun to find happiness in his new mission in life: sharing his story with people around the world and working on behalf of the often persecuted gay community in India.
Gohil first spoke about his sexuality on Oprah in 2007, but elaborates on his unique coming out story in a recent video for Come Out Loud, an organization that aspires “to provide a platform for the LGBT community to come together and unite.”
He describes his long journey from experimenting with his sexuality with his servant as a boy to getting married to a princess in 1991, which made him realize he was not sexually attracted to women. The marriage only lasted a year and he claims it was never consummated.
“When I was around 12 or 13, I realized I wasn’t attracted towards the opposite sex. I was attracted to the same sex,” Manvendra says in a 17-minute video for the LGBT group Come Out Loud. “Why is this attraction happening? I wasn’t clear about it because I did not have communication with anyone.”
“It was a very confusing state.”
He also tells the story of coming out to his parents. Under pressure from the rest of the royal family, Singh’s parents publicly disowned and disinherited him three months after news of his sexuality broke. But after he traveled the world to tell his story, his parents reversed their decision and have somewhat reluctantly accepted him back into the family.
He continued: “This whole news of my coming out was like an earthquake. The news spread like wildfire and there was utter chaos and confusion and people were shocked.”
In 2000, a sense of injustice compelled Prince Manvendra to start The Lakshya Trust, a community-based organization dedicated to supporting gay men and to education about and prevention of HIV/Aids. “It’s doing well, a lot more people are educated now,” he says in the video.
Today the prince continues to work as an activist fighting to decriminalize homosexuality in India.
Gohil’s powerful final words for Come out Loud:
“We’re all human beings. We should be treated equally and be given the rights which we have been denied. All we expect from the society is love. Gay rights cannot just be won in the courtroom, but also in the hearts and minds of the people we live with.”