Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is opening up about being shunned by his family and even going through conversion therapy.
A year after India’s Supreme Court struck down section 377 of the penal code and decriminalized gay sex, India’s openly gay prince is looking back on his life so far. Prince Manvendra then spoke to Business Insider India about his journey to coming out, going through conversion therapy, and his fulfilling life as India’s first openly gay prince.
“As I was growing up, I was attracted to the same sex but couldn’t understand what’s wrong,” he told the news source.
Unfortunately, the royal family didn’t understand him either. They decided to take him to counseling and eventually shock therapy as a way to convert him into being straight. They even asked if being gay could be surgically removed. They then tried to change his diet and getting him married when the other routes didn’t work.
“I was asked to try everything from being vegetarian to write Ram Ram, (the name of Lord Ram) thousand times,” he said.
“I was so unaware about the whole thing that I thought probably after I get married, maybe I could become a heterosexual,” he said, but that marriage only lasted 15 months.
All of those trials and attempts to “fix” his sexual orientation eventually led to a nervous breakdown. And in that low moment, the prince came to terms with what he and his family had been fighting for so long.
“I was getting treatment in the hospital by this psychiatrist and while he was treating me, I came out to him through one of the counseling sessions and he was very, very understanding and he said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you. You should be proud of your sexuality.’ And it was he who actually volunteered to tell my parents about myself. It was through him I came out,” he said.
Unfortunately, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil then dealt with a harsh backlash for officially coming out to the royal family and to the public. The prince’s mother took out an ad in a paper to disown her son, who was 40 at the time. In addition, his former subjects burned his effigies in outrage.
But after fighting through that, the prince focused on using his public image and persona for good. He opened up an LGBTQ community center in his private palace, created a group dedicated to HIV/AIDS education and prevention called the Lakshya Trust, and he created a campaign called Free Gay India to help decriminalize homosexuality.
While his life has been full of struggle and hurt, the prince has found a way to create beauty and support through that. And with this anniversary of anti-sodomy laws being removed in India, he’s a figure we should all appreciate.
Sources: Business Insider India