In 2006, the Prince of Rajpipla, one of India’s oldest royal families made a public announcement that made headlines around the world: the 40-year-old formerly married Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil was actually gay. This announcement made Prince Manvendra the world’s only openly gay prince — and it also enraged his community and ripped his family apart. Soon after, his mother, the Queen, took out an ad in the newspaper to publicly disown her only son. What was even more shocking was that Prince Manvendra was also risking his own freedom, as homosexuals acts in India under Section 377 of IPC is punishable by 10 years to life in prison.
Still, Prince Manvendra remained determined to live in his truth.
He opened up about the difficulties he faced during a 2007 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” telling the talk show host what it was like growing up with this secret in an ancient royal family and a country that condemned homosexuality.
“I couldn’t talk to anyone, couldn’t share my views to anyone. So, I was confused whether I’m the only one like that or are other people like me or was it kind of a disease?” Prince Manvendra said back then. “I thought, ‘Maybe it’s a passing phase. I might get over it once I’m married.’ And that’s the reason I decided to get married.”
Eleven years since he came out to the world, Prince Manvendra is now a prominent voice for LGBTQIA rights in India as well as internationally. The Indian ambassador to nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation, his days are now spent travelling around the country to spread awareness about HIV.