In­dia’s first openly gay prince has an im­por­tant mes­sage about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity

IN Magazine - - COMING OUT - 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.

The prince 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,” Prince Manvendra says in a 17-minute video for 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, Prince Manvendra’s par­ents pub­licly dis­owned and dis­in­her­ited him three months af­ter news of his sex­u­al­ity broke. But af­ter he trav­elled the world to tell his story, his par­ents re­versed their de­ci­sion and have some­what re­luc­tantly ac­cepted him back into the fam­ily.

as he ex­plains in the video: “This whole news of my com­ing out was like an earth­quake. The news spread like wild­fire; 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.

His 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.”

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