Gay prince no more pariah in Rajpipla February 7, 2009Posted by nitinkarani in English, Personality, Times of India.
From The Times of India:
2 Feb 2009, 0107 hrs IST, Yogesh Pareek, TNNRAJPIPLA: Despite being the poster boy of the gay movement in India, Manvendra Singh Gohil, scion of erstwhile Rajpipla state, had found little acceptance among locals. His former subjects kept him at arm’s length and avoided functions organised by him ever since he went public with his gay status in 2006.
But winds of change are starting to blow in this picturesque town. Gohil recently organised a public function to celebrate the 119th birth anniversary of his great grandfather, the philanthropic Maharaja Vijay Singhji. And people turned up in large numbers, leaving behind their squeamishness.
Many believe that his growing celebrity status – being invited on the Oprah Winfrey Show and as a contestant in reality shows on British television – may have helped him gain acceptance. But, the prince is also an extremely genial person.
“In the past, many taboos were attached to homosexuality. But thanks to media attention, there is growing awareness and hence they understand me too. Besides, I have removed barriers of royal family and started visiting people to solve their problems,” Gohil said.
Gohil’s popularity can be gauged from the number of farmers in the region taking to organic farming. “When I started getting good returns from organic farming, I held meetings with farmers to encourage them to follow suit. Today, many are growing sugarcane and bananas the organic way.” The prince is also teaching yoga to local youth.
Farmer Mahesh Kachiya, councillor of Rajpipla nagarpalika, says, “I had avoided Gohil after realising he was gay. But, I saw that he was the only member of the royal family concerned about us. Since then, I have attended his functions. I salute his dedication to the people of Rajpipla.” Merchant Jagdish Barot adds, “He has a vision for Rajpipla. That is what matters. It takes courage to declare one’s gay status and oppose one’s family, that too when you come from royal lineage.”
Physician Girish Anand, who runs a hospital in Rajpipla, says, “I have known Gohil for the past 12 years and witnessed the ups and downs in his life. The manner in which he has reached out to the people of Rajpipla, has helped in ensuring that he does not remain a pariah here. If there are any issues related to his gay status, they are with a section of his family.”