Manvendra Singh Gohil with Oprah Winfrey

In 2007, Oprah Show viewers met the world's only openly gay prince, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla, India. Prince Manvendra told how difficult it had been for him to come out. He was publicly rebuked by his parents and risked his freedom—homosexual acts were punishable by 10 years to life in prison. 

Being on The Oprah Winfrey Show even once might be an opportunity of a lifetime for most. However, gay prince of the erstwhile Rajpipla state Manvendra Singh Gohil is set to appear for second time. He received an invitation from the producers of the show to appear in the farewell season of the show. Prince Manvendra returned to The Oprah Show in 2011.

Gohil's appearance on the show in 2007 catapulted him to fame globally. His was a rare case of a royalty admitting to being gay. This had seemingly caught the fancy of the producer then. Now, Gohil will talk about how things had changed for him after he appeared on the show.

Gohil, too, was surprised when he got a call asking him for a second appearance on the show. "I had not expected this. I was just hoping to meet Oprah as she had promised me this if she ever visited India," he said before leaving for the US with close aide Sylvester Merchant. Gohil said he would remind Oprah of her promise.

He vividly remembers the first show. "I was a bit apprehensive initially as I was told that Oprah rigorously grilled her guests. I was asked to be prepared," Gohil said. But the meeting was quite a contrast. "She was very polite and gentle. She kept addressing me as 'Your Highness' or 'Prince Manvendra'. Probably, she realised that I was honest and had nothing to hide," Gohil said. Gohil agrees that it was the show that brought him to international limelight. "Be it being called to gay prides at Stockholm, Amsterdam and Sau Paulo or meeting Calra Bruni-Sarkozy - they all happened after the show," he said.

Merchant, closely associated with Lakshya Trust patronised by Gohil, said the show had greatly helped their work. "The show reached several opinion makers and things changed in many ways," he said.

Manvendra had invited Oprah to visit Rajpipla during his first interview with her in October 2007. Then too she had agreed to visit Rajpipla and even inquired how to reach there. "I was planning to remind her of what she had told me in the first interview. But before I did so, she herself told me that Rajpipla visit was on cards during her tour to India," Gohil said. He added that Oprah was planning a travel show and would visit India in 2012. "This was unexpected," Gohil said.

"She referred to the place on a couple of occasions. She said I should keep a fine room reserved for her at the palace. I told her I would keep the best room for her and she should not bother about things once she reaches India," Gohil said. He even invited her to inaugurate a retirement home that he was building for elderly gay persons. "She said that she would like to do that," Gohil said. The home is still under construction and Gohil hopes to finish it by the time Oprah visits India.

Shannon and Seema’s wedding

As you scroll through the photographs of Shannon and Seema’s wedding (the first Hindu lesbian marriage in the US), you cannot help but tear up a little. Both of them look so much in love with each other. Everything about the wedding ceremony looks absolutely spectacular, including the two lovely ladies. What draws you more closer to their celebration is that their parents too are happily involved, blessing them wholeheartedly. And, this beautiful homosexual wedding can actually make us learn some great life lessons. So, take a look at a few of them, and enjoy the beautiful journey of your relationship with your sweetheart.


Be yourself : Coming out of the closet is not an easy task for anybody. Shannon and Seema took the leap of faith and revealed about their relationship to the world. So, follow their suit and accept your relationship (be it straight or a homosexual one) in front of everyone. Do not let the society’s norms stop you from being what you are. You have the freedom to do what you want in your life. Do not let the world dictate the terms of your life.

Love conquers all : Homosexuality is a taboo in Indian society. For many, it is a biological disorder, while a few consider it as last birth’s karma. But, Seema and Shannon’s wedding proved it all wrong. For them love knows no boundaries, quite literally. They proved the world that everything comes second to love.


Your parents want you to be happy : Your parents may yell at you, may disagree with your views and constantly fight with you over mundane issues, but at the end of the day, they want you to be happy. Both Shannon and Seema’s parents may have had problems accepting their choice, but in the end they wholeheartedly accepted their daughters’ wishes and made their wedding possible.

Go for a fusion : Seema came in a palki and Shannon walked down the aisle with a bouquet of flowers. Seema was dressed in an Indian bridal attire, while Shannon teamed her wedding gown with maang tikka and bangles. This fusion of Indian and western bridal dresses added a delightful touch to the ceremony.


Both the partners are equal : During the wedding ceremony, both Shannon and Seema, applied sindoor in each other’s maang. This was one of the most beautiful moments of the wedding, as it symbolised their belief that they both are equal partners in their relationship.

Let your hair down : As this is an unconventional wedding, many eyebrows would have definitely been raised. And, this would have made the duo upset for sure. But, braving all odds, the couple made sure that they enjoy every bit of their special day.


There is so much we can learn from the fact that an Indian family happily accepted their daughter’s decision and participated in her wedding. In a country where homosexuals have to deal with immense social stigma, emotional and psychological agony, outright rejection of their sexual identities by their families, physical torture and a compulsion to marry people of the opposite sex, it was indeed heart warming to see Seema’s parents partake in the wedding celebrations. Their gesture is nothing but a mature understanding of the fact that even though they may seem different from heterosexual couples, homosexuals share similar values, hopes and dreams. From this and all other homosexual nuptials, the least we can do is to drive home the point that as long as there is companionship between two men or two women, it should be enough to grant the couple societal acceptance.

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Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil in news

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil

Out of the closet, gay prince prefers to be AIDS ambassador
He prefers to be known as a peasant rather than a prince. He would rather build a hospice for AIDS patients than construct castles and that’s sets Yuvraj Manvendra Sinh Gohil apart from the rest. Mr Gohil, a descendant of the erstwhile princely state Rajpipla is better known for his activities in the field of AIDS awareness among the gay community. Yuvraj the only son of Maharaja Raghuvirsinh is a patron pf Lakshya Trust. During the Raj days, Rajpipla enjoyed a 13-gun salute. But the prince says he will not have a coronation ceremony. “It is ridiculous to have the title of maharaja now. After 1971, royal families have lost their identities since the Central government withdrew our rights for privy purses. My name was registered in government gazettes when I was born in 1965 as Yuvraj so I am wearing it like my father is wearing the little of maharaja,” says Manvendra Sinh Gohil, who recently shocked everyone by admitting that he is gay. Now Mr Gohil has become an icon for the gay community not only in India but also abroad. A group of homosexuals in Ahmedabad is planning to form a fan club to support Mr gohil’s cause. He has already accepted their invitation to set up base of Lakshya in Ahmedabad too. He is also planning new centers in Bhavnagar, Jamnagar and Vapi apart from branch offices in several other towns of Gujarat. “Mobilising funds is no more a problem thanks to the publicity that I have received in the last couples of years. We are planning a hospice project attached to an old-age home in Rajpipla on the banks of the Narmada at an investment of Rs 20 crire. An NRI has already given us 11 acre land and Lions Club of Pratapnagar will fund the project, partially,” says Manvendra Sinh Gohil. He recently received Civil Society Award from UNAIDS for outstanding performance in awareness homosexuals. The proposed hospice will have gays as nurses as they are believed to be better in nursing the worldover. Mr Gohil says gays need to prevent them from becoming prostitutes. Mr Gohil does not accept any remuneration from Lakshya as he earns enough from farming. The prince does not take active part in family enterprises, including a heritage hotel in the royal family’s official residence. “I am helping the hotel in terms of marketing. The brand Rajpipla is becoming popular, thanks to the media attention I am getting.” He says with a smile. 

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil

My father gifted me a blue jacket
Much water has flown under the bridge since Manvendra Singh Gohil, the prince of Rajpipla came out in the open about his sexuality. But the tradition of celebrating his birthday with a musical fest was followed with regal splendour even this year. And it was more special this time as it was a show of solidarity with the young man by his friends. There was a cloud of uncertainty over Manvendra's annual musical fest. The question was: Would it really happen? As earlier this year Manvendra came out in the open about his sexuality and relationships soured between him and his parents. But then things improved, when his father held out an olive branch to Manvendra through an interview with us. However, as his mother Maharani Rukmani Devi still refuses to discuss anything about Manvendra, there were lots of apprehensions. Would the guests turn out in full measure, signalling a show of solidarity with the prince? In the end, it was an enchanting evening with a musical performance by Ranjitsinh Gaekwad, the scion of the royal Gaekwad family and kathak performance by Dhiru Mistry. A traditional feast of shahi mutton and Rajpipla chicken tickled the taste buds. "I have been a regular here for past few years. I am not bothered about controversies," says Digveerendrasinh J Solanki, the former maharaja of Vansda. Friends like Rajeev and Suvarna Sathe, an architect couple came all the way from Mumbai. Suvarna says, “Manvendra Sinh Gohil and my husband have the same music guru. When he came out in the open about his sexuality, there was a great hue and cry. He’s a wonderful man and why should his sexuality be an issue?” Sundeepsinhji Chudasama, a mumbai based voice-over artiste says, “I be long to a Rajput family and know how difficult it is for the community to accept homosexuality. Fortunately I am out of the closet and my family has accepted me, but many in the community find this to be a slur on them.” If question were raised about the absence of Manvendra’s parents at the bash, Manvendra had a written message from his father to be read at the function. He also told BT, “Everything went off well my father gifted me a navy blue jacket in advance and extracted a promise that I would wear it.” In fact his father Raghubir Singh Gohil, the former Maharaja of Rajpipla spoke exclusively to BT before leaving for Mumbai. “I am in Mumbai to attend to important property matters, for the previous meeting I sent Manvendra but this time he has to be here for the celebrations. Anyway, his birth date is on September 23 and we might meet in Mumbai for it is my sister’s birthday as well.” Would he play the peacemaker between Manvendra and his mother? “Both of us (he and his wife) have different viewpoints and I cannot speak about this matter to her. But I didn’t want Manvendra’s celebrations to be dampened in any way.”

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil

This prince lives a Spartan life
Gujarat’s Gay Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil hasn’t just made being gay hip in the state. He has been working silently on the banks of the Narmada, doing vermiculture, and using the money to promote Lakshya Trust that homosexual people. Heir apparent to a heritage hotel at the royal family’s palace and other properties of Rajpipla likes to talk about his music, vermiculture and even yoga. About his farm he says that what began on a small scale in 1996, today generates about eight to 10 tonnes of vermicompost every year. Besides manure, the vermicompost is also supplied to industries for effluent treatment purposes. He was among the first to start vermiculture on a large scale in the region. He even conducts workshop under the banner of Lakshya trust to train farmers. Basic things like a cot too are missing at his residence on the farm. He sleeps on a quilt. And to take care of the mosquito menace, he has planted tulsi around his house. The doors and windows are left open so that the breeze from the Narmada keeps the home comfortable. “The nets on the doors and windows keep away snakes.” He says. “Luxuries don’t appeal to me. I am not even fond of extravagant food or elaborate outfits. Probably that’s the reason why I understand little about the family business of hospitality, which revolves around providing luxury to people,” he says. He can manage to give details of the infrastructure and prominent tourist attractions in the area, but knows little about the value of the family assets or the revenue that the hotel generates or for that matter even the occupancy rate there. The harmonium remains a passion of his childhood and it has stayed with Manvendra since he was a five year old. His father had gifted him one them and the instrument has been a part of his life since. “Every night, I practice for an hour before going to sleep,” he says. The instrument, which he keeps referring to as ‘baja peti’ on a lighter note, is probably his most prized possession.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil

Wives of gay men learn to cope with life
Imagine this situation: You are a housewife with kids, but saddled with a nagging doubt. You believe that your husband is a gay, but the fact is a secret so troubling that you can't tell anyone, not the people in your social circle and certainly not your parents. Well, help is at hand as gay activists in Gujarat have now started sensitizing women towards understanding their gay husbands. In a renewed strategy, counselors at Lakshya Trust are now making an effort to reach out and counsel women married to gay men in order to help them understand the sexual orientation of their husbands. "We get at least four cases a month where gays or bisexuals walk in. Most of them are confused regarding their sexual orientation, are married, have kids and at the same time have problems leading a healthy sexual life. Our first effort is to make gay men aware of their orientation, then approach the wife and understand her needs and the problems she faces while engaging in a physical relationship with her husband and in the final parameter, we sensitise immediate family members of the gay partner and that of the woman,"says counsellor working with Gujarat State Aids Control Society (GSACS) Apurva Pandya. "Generally women who realise that their husbands are gay or bisexual, their first reaction includes shame, guilt, and responsibility.. Our role at the trust is to counsel women and tell them that they are in no way responsible for one's husband's homosexuality, as it is not a choice for the husband. In most cases, parents marry off gays hoping that his sexual preferences would change, but it can’t,” says gay activist Manvendra Sinh Gohil. Counselors say that women who have been sensitized recently do not mind their husbands going around with another man. In fact, activists have noticed that these women can tolerate their husbands' homosexual relations, but can't cope with the idea of them seeing other women. "We have been repeatedly advising men with alternative sexuality against marriages as their wives end up paying a heavy price,” says another activist Sylvester Merchant.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil

Gay prince to make public appearance with family
The erstwhile royal family of Rajpipla will once again make an appearance in public. The decision assumes significance as the family has not been spotted together ever since their scion Manvendra Singh Gohil declared that he is a homosexual. The calm will come together at the unveiling ceremony of a statue of the late Gambhirsinhji on Tuesday. The statue, installed over 120 years ago, was recently damaged by miscreants who tried to steal it. The day will also coincide with the birth anniversary of the late Vijaysinhji. Manvendra said members of royal families from all over India and abroad will converge at Rajpipla to attend the ceremony. Manvendra’s parents, Raghuvir Singh Gohil and Rukmani Devi, had issued public notices in June last year virtually disowning him. Since then, it was believed the family had buried the hatchet and would make a public appearance at his birthday celebration at the palace in September, but Manvendra’s parents were not seen at the celebration. His father had, however, gifted a jacket to Manvendra who said that while his parents were not present at the function, the event would not have been possible without their support and blessings. Manvendra Singh Gohil’s father will be performing the rituals at the unveiling ceremony and his son will be present. “This will be the first time after I publicly stated that I was a gay that we will attend a public function together,” said Manvendra. “It will be after almost 17 years that the entire family will come together. The last time we got together was on the occasion of the birth centenary of my great grandfather.”

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