All about Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil in his own words...


manvendra singh gohil I was born into the royal family of Rajpipla, in Gujarat. I did not know what homosexuality was. But, even though I did not have an appropriate name for it, I knew that there was something different about me when I was 13.

However, I did not tell my parents about it. I married Chandrika Kumari from Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh in ’91. I thought I would be okay after marriage because even then, I didn’t know much about what being gay meant. I was still not sure of the nature and permanency of my sexuality. I know it might sound a bit odd but I had a very administered childhood. Our marriage was not consummated and we got divorced soon after. But, I do not regret getting married. I didn’t know better then. If I knew what it meant to be gay, I could have saved us both a lot of pain. I do regret causing her pain. 

My parents only got to know about my sexuality after I had a nervous breakdown in 2002. I had a chat with my doctor and he told my parents about my sexuality. But when he did, I felt relieved as I had been hiding my sexuality and never liked it. I wanted to come out and be open about it and face reality.

My parents were shocked. They thought it to be an impossible thing and they were in a state of denial for a long time. It was difficult to be gay in my family. The villagers worship us and we are role models for them. My family didn’t allow us to mix with ordinary people. Our exposure to the liberal world was minimal. All these years I was hiding my sexuality from my parents, family and people.

The reaction from people shocked me though. I was deeply saddened and hurt to see those people, who had loved and adored me just until yesterday, were burning my effigies. It is deeply shocking to see how ignorance can suffocate people’s love and intellectual growth. My people thought that I should be stripped off my title, but when they realised that I am honest and still the same person, they came around to accepting my sexuality for what it is.

During all the time I was criticised and ostracised, I never thought of leaving India and settling abroad. I never blamed the public for their backlash; I blamed their ignorance. Life for me changed after I came out about my sexual preferences. I was free and it felt like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I had already set up Lakshya, an NGO, where I am still the chairperson. 

The government of Gujarat mostly funds Lakshya and we also regularly ask for private charitable donations as well. After having come out about my sexuality to my parents, I also had to struggle for my own funds as I refused to take money from the royal house until we reconciled. I plan to write a book, which I am working on with my godson about creating awareness about the gay issue in India.

As part of my liberated life after coming out, I participated in the gay pride parades in Mumbai and Delhi in India and in Stockholm and Sao Paulo overseas. The Gay Pride Parade was a testimony of how much people wanted to taste the fruit of freedom. It was very delightful to see even straight people coming out in the parade to support their gay friends and family. To be proud of oneself for who they are is a good thing to be. 

I have had some exciting experiences abroad including being a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. The experience with Oprah was simply amazing. She is a very kind person. My conversation with her was mostly about my broken marriage and the gay culture in India in general. Oprah is one of the most talented individuals I have ever met and I am quite excited about her tentative plan to visit India.

I also participated in a show called Princes Undercover. The show was aired on BBC’s Channel 3. The show invited three princes from around the world, including me. We had to live like commoners there and get ourselves a day job and find and support our dates in Brighton. Once we won the confidence of our dates, we had to bring them back to India and tell them the truth about our royal pasts. It was one of the most amazing things I ever did in my life. I did not end up finding anybody for myself as such, but it was a lot of fun.

To take my royal responsibilities further, I plan to adopt a child some time in the future. Many people in almost all royal families have adopted children for one reason or the other. I do not have to worry about adopting right now. I will wait till I get the throne after my father. I am the natural heir to the throne of Rajpipla even though politically it means very little today. Culturally, it is very significant part of my social identity.

As for finding that someone special, I think that’s the case with not only me but also many single celebrities. It is quite a tricky situation when people show interest in you romantically. I have learnt not to throw caution out of the window so soon any more. Never mind that I have learnt it the hard way. I am sure if I stay good and kind I will find someone soon enough.

4 comments:

Marcel Duvoix on August 1, 2010 at 9:17 AM said...

Dear Prince Manvendra,
Thank you for sharing your story in your own words. It means a lot, to so many peoples, for you to live your life with so much dignity and compassion for others. This is what gives me so much inspiration.

I wish you success as always, in your up-coming projects and endeavors, and you know already, that you can count on my steadfast friendship.

I'm in the process, of planning to work with your Lakshya Trust in the up-coming months, in some capacity, and will alert you, as to what shape this will take; and exactly when. Signed: His Royal Majesty King Marcel Duvoix.

ourmine on November 9, 2010 at 12:25 PM said...

Your story is so unique!
It's like a movie itself!
Thank You so much for sharing it!
Your courageous and open acts, as well as activism are such a great deal!
Greetings from a gay Armenian man, from Armenia (Transcaucasia).

Anonymous said...

Prince Manavendra,
You are kind and gentle soul with great spirit.
Thank you for changing the world.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" on April 13, 2011 at 9:14 AM said...

Dear Prince Manvendra,

I think you may be the Gay Gandhi . . . God willing, many LesBiGay and Transsexual Indians may follow the path you've blazed to integrity and freedom. I cannot wait to buy your book; you must hurry and finish it.

 

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