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Manvendra Singh Gohil: Out, Proud and Princely in India

in INDIA, 29/04/2013

When he came out in 2006, it caused headlines. When he talked about his life as a gay man, it sparked national debate. His family disowned him. In the streets of India, he was burned in effigy. In America, Oprah Winfrey invited him to talk to the world about his experiences as a royal prince of the ancient state of Rajpipla and coming out in a modern India.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil's coming out may not amount to much to a casual observer from afar, but in India, a country with distressingly few out gay and lesbian icons in popular culture (including, and especially, Bollywood), it was a pivotal event. In fact, it was scandalous. That was, in part, because the prince's revelation flew in the face of several widely held misconceptions about being gay in India, where homosexuality is persistently tied to class and economic status. Being gay is often considered a perversion prevalent in slums. A gay Indian prince is more than just an anomaly. For many, it is categorically unthinkable. In contemporary India, his revelation shattered another illusion as well. Homosexuality is cast as a Western import, something "other" than Indian. The trouble was that the prince did not go to a school in the United States or Europe. In fact, he did not travel outside India until after he came out to his country. Read more

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