Gay Prince shuns royalty and fights for Gay rights
Ahmedabad:His name is Manvender Singh Gohel. He is the first person from Indian Royalty to declare from his palace top that he is a gay. People and family members were shocked.
He was disinherited. His father Maharana Shri Raghubir Singhji Rajendrasinghji Sahib, who inherited the title of Maharana of Rajpipla was heart broken. He has driven his son away. But brought him back later. The people of Gujarat were so angry that the handsome prince was a gay that they had broken his statues to pieces.
The prince who understood that he was a gay not fit for a conjugal life after his marriage ended in a divorce, got involved in the movement for the rights of Gays in India and finally won it, when the Delhi High Court recently recognized the rights of the Gays and Lesbians.
The Gay Prince says no one told him that he was abnormal. He has consented for the Royal marriage as he did not know he was a gay. In January 1991, he married Chandrika Kumari from Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, because, he thought he would be normal after the marriage, he says. The disenchanted princes easily got the divorce from him. He however feels that he was guilty of ruining her life. Several years after his divorce in 1992, he became involved in a social network to help gays in Gujarat. He says it was difficult to be a gay in a royal family as the villagers worship them and they were the role models for them. He kept the fact that he was a gay a secret from the family. But when in 2002 he was hospitalized for nervous breakdown, his doctors informed his parents about his sexuality. He then came out in the open and gave an interview to a friendly journalist and his life transformed. “Now people accept me,” the Prince says, after surmounting all difficulties, including being blamed of bringing dishonor to the family. He was disinherited and the family has finally reunited, accepting the harsh truth of life.
On his coming out, he has said: I knew that they would never accept me for who I truly am, but I also knew that I could no longer live a lie. I wanted to come out because I had gotten involved with activism and I felt it was no longer right to live in the closet. I came out as gay because I wanted people to openly discuss homosexuality since it’s a hidden affair with a lot of stigma attached.
He got himself engaged social work and took leadership in the movement for preventing and educating on HIV/AIDS. In 2000, Manvendra started the Lashya Trust, of which he is chairman. It is a group dedicated to HIV/AIDS education and prevention. A registered public charitable trust, Lakshya is a community-based organization working for HIV/AIDS. It provides counseling services, clinics for treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Lakshya won the Civil Society Award 2006 for its contribution in preventing HIV/AIDS among homosexual men..
The trust also creates employment opportunities for gay men, and plans to open a hospice/old age home for gay men.