Gay Prince to appear on Oprah show

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

One of the most prominent openly gay people in India is to appear on the world-famous Oprah Winfrey talkshow.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, from the Royal family of Gujarat in north west India, made headlines around the world last year when he publicly came out of the closet.

He was initially disowned by his family, but has continued to work with HIV-awareness programmes and he will discuss his work with Oprah.

The Prince has never really sought to hide his sexual orientation, starring in the gay film Emotionally Yours and setting up an HIV-awareness charity to educate gay men about the dangers of the disease.

This charity, Lakshya, has solemnised gay “marriages” and is conducting research into acceptance for homosexuality in Holy Scriptures.

Perhaps the annulment of his short-lived marriage might have given Prince Manvendra’s parents an inkling of his preferences.

He apologised in court to his ex-wife for never consummating the marriage.

Indeed, hoping not to be forced to go ahead with the marriage in the first place, Manvendra told his parents that he had sensed that he might be gay from the age of 12, and in 2002 he received counselling to help him come to terms with the consequences of his sexuality.

Yet, when a Gujarati paper published Manvendra’s statement confirming that he was indeed gay, it provoked shock, outrage and disbelief from his parents.

However, his parents have reconciled with him. The King explained to the Times of India:

“I was in an awkward situation and didn’t know how do deal with it. Relatives from all over the country called me up.

“Rajpipla is a conservative place. Women still cover their heads with a pallu; sex is a taboo topic to talk about. I was in the line of fire.”

After a short-lived threat to disown and disinherit his son, the King restored all his titles and accepted him as a gay man.

Homosexuality is banned in India and punishable by up to 10 years in jail, but gay activists are trying to lift the veil of secrecy over the community in a country where public hugging or kissing even among heterosexuals invites angry stares, lewd comments and even beatings.

Yesterday the Prince did his part to keep gay people visible by throwing a 42nd birthday party for himself.

As usual he invited many who face discrimination because of their HIV status or sexuality and the event received a large amount of coverage in the Indian press.

“Gays are talented, creative, imagine a world without us,” he said at his party, according to Reuters.

“I was born gay with some talent and skills, this festival is for people like me.”

Today’s announcement that Prince Manvendra is to appear on Oprah has generated even more headlines.