The LGBTQ+ community of India has only just started to be ‘out and proud’ with the iconic 2018 decision by the Supreme Court to decriminalise same-sex relations.
This verdict finally allowed the LGBTQ+ people of India to be free from the ‘legal’ shackles and fully embrace who they really are.
But it is not like LGBT and such relations are ‘new’ to the country, in fact, various ancient texts have often mentioned same-sex relations. Besides this, many brave souls have been working for the community for decades now, even knowing they could be deemed a criminal, they still forged ahead to provide a safe place for LGBT+ community.
One such person would be the first openly gay prince of India, Manvendra Singh Gohil, probable heir to Gujarat’s Maharaja of Rajpipla.
Who Is India’s Only Openly Gay Prince?
Born in 1965, Manvendra Singh Gohil, the only son of his parents came out to his parents about being a homosexual decades ago.
In a 2007 interview with Oprah Winfrey he said that, “People are so agitated and furious that their prince brought shame to us, to the family, shame to our heritage. Shame to the lineage.”
While his father outright refused to accept his son’s orientation as natural, his mother went one step further and printed an ad in a paper to disown her then 40 year old son.
He also revealed in an interview with BBC in 2018 of how people who used respect him as a royal earlier were burning his effigies.
Manvendra stated that, “As I was growing up, I was attracted to the same sex but couldn’t understand what’s wrong,” and his parents not willing to accept it made him undergo counselling including shock therapy to ‘cure’ him and convert him into a heterosexual man. There was even talks about a surgery if it would help.
Then, due to pressure from family and society, he had to marry Princess Chandrika Kumari in 1991. The marriage was a sham and fell through in just an year, the Prince later revealed that he thought he could get ‘cured’ if he got married.
He said that, “I was so unaware about the whole thing that I thought probably after I get married, maybe I could become a heterosexual.” Fortunately his wife was understanding and not only filed for divorce but promised to not reveal his sexual orientation.
Things got so bad that in 2002 he had to get hospitalised that he explained saying, “I was getting treatment in the hospital by this psychiatrist and while he was treating me, I came out to him through one of the counseling sessions and he was very, very understanding and he said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you. You should be proud of your sexuality.’ And it was he who actually volunteered to tell my parents about myself. It was through him I came out.”
From there, Prince Manvendra finally decided to accept his sexual identity and started to work towards the upliftment and betterment of the LGBTQ+ community.
The prince had already started the Lakshya Trust in 2000 to create awareness and educate people about HIV/AIDS and its prevention. He then also launched the ‘Free Gay India’ campaign in 2014 that fought for the legalisation of same-sex relations in India.
And then in 2018 he officially opened a centre for the LGBTQ+ people of India who were disowned by their families after coming out on his ancestral palace grounds.
He explained his reason for the centre as, “People in India are so attached to their parents they are not able to live without them. When they try and come out parents do not understand and disown their children and throw them out of the home. The children don’t know where to go and are homeless,” and added that, “I need to rescue these people who have been rendered homeless otherwise they will die, commit suicide, or get depressed.”
Image Credits: Google Images
Find the blogger @chirali_08