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Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, India’s first openly gay prince, has recently shared a deeply personal and challenging aspect of his life. He revealed that his parents took drastic measures to try and change his sexuality, including seeking medical interventions. Let’s take a closer look at his story.
Born in 1965, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil holds a significant position as the son and potential heir of the honorary Maharaja of Rajpipla. He has made history by becoming the world’s first openly gay prince and has established himself as a prominent LGBT advocate in India. Gohil is also the driving force behind the Lakshya Trust, a charitable organization dedicated to supporting the LGBT community.
In 1971, India underwent a transformation that led to the “de-recognition” of its royal figures, impacting Gohil’s family. His father lost the prestigious title of Maharaja along with the associated annual pension. The family adapted to the changing times by converting their ancestral seat, the Rajvant Palace in Rajpipla, into a tourist attraction and film shooting location. They also established a secondary residence in Mumbai.
In a candid interview, Gohil disclosed the extraordinary measures his parents took when he came out as gay. They resorted to brain surgery and electroshock therapy in an attempt to alter his sexual orientation. Gohil expressed feeling deeply humiliated by these attempts to change who he was.
Reflecting on his past, Gohil revealed the challenges he faced within his family and community due to his sexuality. He explained that his family’s position as role models in the eyes of villagers came with its own set of expectations, making it difficult for him to openly embrace his true self.
The constraints placed on his interactions with certain people and his limited exposure to the broader world added to his struggles. It wasn’t until he suffered a nervous breakdown in 2002 and was hospitalized that his parents learned about his sexuality from a doctor. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of a new chapter for Gohil. His decision to come out publicly and share his story transformed his life, leading to a more accepting environment.
Gohil’s advocacy extended beyond India’s borders. In 2008, he inaugurated the Euro Pride gay festival in Stockholm, Sweden. He even embarked on a journey documented in a BBC Three series called “Undercover Princes,” which followed his quest to find love in Brighton, UK.
Furthermore, Gohil took on an editorial role in the gay men-centric magazine “Fun,” published in Rajpipla since July 2010. In July 2013, he celebrated a significant milestone by marrying Cecil “DeAndre” Richardson (né Hilton), an American residing in Seattle.