In 2006 the Crown Prince of India, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, became the first prince to come out as gay. The married 40-year-old prince was publicly disowned by his mother in a newspaper ad and his father refused to accept him.
In 2007, Gohil appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to speak about his struggle coming out.
“I couldn’t talk to anyone, couldn’t share my views to anyone,” he said. “So, I was confused whether I’m the only one like that or are other people like me or was it kind of a disease? I thought, ‘Maybe it’s a passing phase. I might get over it once I’m married.’ And that’s the reason I decided to get married.”
Gohil was married to a woman through an arranged marriage, though he said he was never forced to marry her. He started to embrace his sexuality when his marriage ended and began working on the gay community in India.
In 2010, Gohil came back to the Oprah Winfrey Show to share updates. His parents took back their disownment and cities in India started to host pride parades. India had also removed the law making homosexual acts punishable by prison time.
Now, on Oprah: Where Are They Now?, Gohil shared less exciting news.
“We’ve gone back to square one, to 150 years,” he said. “That period of four and a half years when we had enjoyed our freedom has suddenly been snatched away from us.”
The homosexuality law has been reinstated, once again offering prison time for homosexual acts.
“When I say that the homosexuals are not free in India, we don’t have the freedom to love,” he said. “All of us are scared. Imagine those who have fallen in love, they’ve had partners in their lives, they’ve had boyfriends, the want to go for long-term relationships – are all now scared. That’s where we are losing our freedom.”
Gohil, however, is still hoping to change the laws. In 2014 he created a grassroots campaign called Free Gay India.
“The Free Gay India campaign is aimed at the law which is criminalizing the homosexual population in India,” Gohil said. “We would like to connect more and more people into it.”
Though Gohil said he would never do anything to go against his mother, she still doesn’t speak to him.
“We almost ran into each other in the palace, but, of course, we kind of ignore each other as if we don’t exist,” he said. “I have always respected her. I have no ill feelings towards her, but I would never do anything to go against her.”