Manvendra Singh Gohil

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Manvendra Singh Gohil
Hereditary Prince of Rajpipla
Painting of Manvendra Singh Gohil.JPG
Born (1965-09-23) 23 September 1965 (age 53)
Ajmer, Ajmer district, Rajasthan, India
SpousePrincess Chandrika Kumari of Jhabua
(m. 1991 - div. 1992)
Full name
Manvendra Kumar Singh Gohil
HouseParamara-Gohil-Rajput
FatherMaharana Shri Raghubir Singhji Rajendrasinghji of Rajpipla
MotherPrincess Rukmini Devi of Jaisalmer

Manvendra Singh Gohil (born 23 September 1965) is an Indian prince who is the son and probable heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat. He is the first openly gay prince in the world. He runs a charity, The Lakshya Trust, which works with the LGBT community.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Ajmer, the only son of Maharana Shri Raghubir Singhji Rajendrasinghji Sahib, Maharana of Rajpipla, and his wife Maharani Rukmini Devi. Manvendra's mother was born as a princess of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. He has one sister, Minaxi Kumari, who is married into the princely family of Chenani in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1971, the government of India "de-recognized" the Indian princes, and Manvendra's father consequently lost the official title of Maharaja and the privy purse (an annual pension) that came with it. The princes adjusted to the new socialist regime; the Rajpipla royals converted their family seat, the Rajvant Palace in Rajpipla, into a tourist resort and location for film-shooting. They also set up a second residence in Mumbai. He was educated at Bombay Scottish School and at the Amrutben Jivanlal College of Commerce and Economics (one of the institutions in the Mithibai College campus in Vile Parle, Mumbai.

His parents arranged marriage, and in January 1991, he married Chandrika Kumari, a princess of Jhabua State in Madhya Pradesh. Manvendra says about his marriage:

"I thought that after marriage everything will be all right, that with a wife, I will have children and become "normal" and then I will be at peace. I was struggling and striving to be "normal." I never knew and nobody told me that I was gay and [that] this itself is normal and it will not change. That this is what is called homosexuality and it is not a disease. I tremendously regret for ruining (Chandrika's) life. I feel guilty, but I simply did not know better."[1]

The marriage remained unconsummated. He says, "It was a total disaster. A total failure. The marriage never got consummated. I realized I had done something very wrong. Now two people were suffering instead of one. Far from becoming normal, my life was more miserable."[2]

His wife filed for divorce after just over a year of marriage. Although further requests for marriage were received, he declined them. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 2002. He says:

Upon being informed by the psychiatrists that their son was gay, Manvendra's parents accepted the truth, but stipulated that this matter should not be revealed to anyone else. He left Mumbai and began living full-time with his parents in the small town of Rajpipla.

In 2005, Chirantana Bhatt, a young journalist from Vadodara Gujarat approached Manvendra. He confided his sexual orientation and the mental stress he was going through as a closeted gay man to the journalist. On 14 March 2006, the story of his coming out made headlines, the "coming out" story was first published in the Vadodara edition of Divya Bhaskar,'a regional Gujarati language daily of the Bhaskar media group. It was covered the next day in all other editions of Bhaskar groups language newspapers like Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi language) and Daily News Analysis (DNA), an English newspaper. Soon the news appeared in other English and vernacular newspapers across the country, and became a story that they followed up in their gossip and society pages for several weeks afterward. Manvendra's effigies were burnt in Rajpipla, where people were shocked. Manavendra was jeered and heckled when he made a public appearance in the town.

The publicity and public humiliation caused pain to his parents and sister. His family accused him of bringing dishonour and disowned him.[3][4][5]

He set up a charity for HIV/AIDS prevention.[6] The Lakshya Trust trains female field workers who educate women married to MSM about safe sex practices.[7]

He appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show on 24 October 2007. He was one of three persons featured in the show entitled 'Gay Around the World'.

He inaugurated the Euro Pride gay festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25 July 2008.

He featured in a BBC Television series, Undercover Princes, screened on BBC Three in the UK in January 2009 which documented his search for a British boyfriend in Brighton.[9]

Since July 2010, he has served as editor of the gay male-centric print magazine Fun,[10][11] which is published in Rajpipla.[12]

Charitable activities[edit]

In 2000, he started the Lakshya Trust, of which he is chairman, a group dedicated to HIV/AIDS education and prevention. A registered public charitable trust, Lakshya is a community-based organisation working for HIV/AIDS prevention among men who have sex with men (MSMs). It provides counselling services, clinics for treatment of sexually transmitted infections, libraries, and condom-use promotion. Lakshya won the Civil Society Award 2006 for its contribution in preventing HIV/AIDS among homosexual men.[13]

The trust also creates employment opportunities for gay men and support for other organisations for MSMs, and plans to open a hospice/old age home for gay men.

Lakshya is a member of the India Network For Sexual Minorities (INFOSEM) and a founding member of the Sexual Health Action Network (SHAN).

In 2007, Manvendra joined the Interim Governing Board of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health, known as APCOM, a regional coalition of MSM and HIV community-based organisations, the government sector, donors, technical experts and the UN system. He serves as India Community Representative on behalf of INFOSEM, the India MSM and HIV network. Manvendra said of this work, "APCOM is one of the best mediums to bring together different nationalities and develop linkages with others working for HIV and MSM/TG. In India, it will be an important tool to influence authorities to change thinking and broaden outlooks for the betterment of society. APCOM demonstrates the essence of unity and solidarity within diversity."[14]

In May 2009, it was announced that there are plans to turn Prince Manvendra's life story into a major motion picture. The script will be written by a member of the erstwhile Kapurthala royal family, Prince Amarjit Singh.[15]

In 2018 Manvendra opened up his 15-acre palace grounds to help house vulnerable LGBT people who might otherwise be "left with nothing" when "their families disown them after coming out".[16]

He is the only known person of royal lineage in modern India to have publicly revealed he is gay .[17]

In January 2008, while performing an annual ceremony in Rajpipla in honour of his great-grandfather Maharaja Vijaysinhji, Manvendra Gohil announced plans to adopt a child, saying: "I have carried out all my responsibilities as the prince so far and will continue as long as I can. I will also adopt a child soon so that all traditions continue".[18] If the adoption proceeds, it will be the first known case of a single gay man adopting a child in India.

References[edit]

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-the-prince-comes-out-of-closet-1018219 The coming out interview in Divya Bhaskar's English newspaper DNA by Chirantana Bhatt, 16 March 2006 (Gujarati was published prior to this)

  1. ^ a b India's gay prince appears on Oprah show. Rediff.com (31 December 2004). Retrieved on 20 August 2012.
  2. ^ Oprah Winfrey's Official Website – Live Your Best Life. Oprah.com (24 October 2007). Retrieved on 20 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Hundreds Celebrate Gay Prince's Birthday". 365Gay.com. 7 October 2007. Archived from 365gay.com the original Check |url= value (help) on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  4. ^ Chu, Henry. "Prince is out, but not down". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2007.
  5. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00776vc
  6. ^ http://lakshya-trust.org/
  7. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00776vc BBC Radio 4, The Gay Prince of Rajpipla
  8. ^ Gay Prince Manvendra Gohil to Appear on Oprah Winfrey Show. Sheetudeep.com (14 October 2007). Retrieved on 20 August 2012.
  9. ^ Gujarat gay prince seeks love through BBC series. Times of India (15 January 2009).
  10. ^ "Facebook page for Fun Magazine".
  11. ^ Ammu Kannampilly (18 January 2011). "Gay magazines in India hint at quiet revolution". AFP, via Sify.
  12. ^ Yogesh Prateek (23 July 2010). "Latest from Manavendra: India's 1st gay mag". Times of India.
  13. ^ Gay prince to form sexual minorities forum, Rediff.com, 7 December 2006
  14. ^ APCOM – Home. Msmasia.org. Retrieved on 20 August 2012.
  15. ^ Sharma, Sachin (8 May 2009). "Rajpipla's gay prince to get reel life". The Times of India.
  16. ^ "India's gay prince opens palace to the LGBT community". The Independent. 7 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  17. ^ Elizabeth Joseph and Michelle Smawley, Prince's Secret Tears Royal Family Apart, Shocks His Nation, 2 July 2007.
  18. ^ Pareek, Yogesh (31 January 2008). "Gujarat's gay prince to adopt child soon". The Times of India.

External links[edit]