Indian Prince Opens Up Palace for Vulnerable LGBT People

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Image: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil. Credit: Instagram

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, the world’s first openly gay prince, has opened up his 15-acre palace to shelter and aid at-risk LGBTQ+ people, news of which attracted public support from around the world.

In fact, the prominent LGBTQ+ rights advocate is currently expanding housing options on the estate to accommodate larger numbers.

I want to give people social and financial empowerment, so eventually people who want to come out won’t be affected. They will have their own social security system.

– Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil

The son and heir-apparent to the Maharaja of Rajpipla in India’s conservative Gujarat state, Manvendra experienced first-hand the effects of homophobia, watching effigies of himself burning in the streets of his home state when he publicly came out in 2006.

Although raised in one of the most privileged families in India, and indeed the world, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil was set to live a life of public importance and utmost comfort.

His teenage years however brought on a confusing and scary realization to the young heir – he soon realized he was attracted to men, and only men.

Raised in a deeply conservative environment, the young prince even went through with an arranged marriage in 1991 to another royal, in the hopes of pleasing his family. Also, as he later confessed in a now-notorious Oprah interview, he had hopes that the marriage would turn him heterosexual.

 

That of course never happened, as it is scientifically impossible, and the marriage fell apart just 16 months in. Manvendra continued to live a secret life, even as India moved towards a more conservative agenda, cracking down on the LGBTQ+ community.

Then, as his former wife remarried, and Manvendra realized he was in a unique position to further change, he came out as gay in 2006. As he always expected, his family ostracized him, cutting all ties. His mother even took out a newspaper ad to publicly denounce and disown him. He was also disinherited from the ancestral home.

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Image: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil. Credit: Instagram

Despite the deeply painful rejection from his family, India’s openly gay royal set to work, establishing the Lakshya Foundation.

The non-profit works with the LGBTQ+ community, promoting safe-sex practices and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention – despite still being harassed by the police. In fact, there have been deeply disturbing accusations of Lakshya volunteers being arrested and assaulted by police officers. Yet the brave volunteers and Prince Manvendra continue to fight, hoping that change will soon come.


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