After coming out as gay in 2006, Indian Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is venturing in another direction — opening a support center for LGBTQA people on the royal grounds of his country, India.
Amid the strong disapproval of his family, Manvendra is firm in his decision to put up the support center in the Indian state of Gujarat, as reported by DNA India. The prince made the announcement during the Delhi International Queer Theatre and Film Festival.
According to Prince Manvendra, the center will provide economic and social empowerment to sexual minorities and offer skill-based training so they can earn a livelihood for their daily needs. The center will cater to the wide array of needs to the LGBTQA people, including psychological, spiritual, legal and health aspects.
Aimed at building hope and understanding, the center will also have services like weekly social and support meetings, a library, computers, jobs skills training, a music therapy room, a conference center, a community kitchen, housing, and a medical clinic.
At the same time, the 15-acre center also aims to promote equality, cohesion, and visibility in the community, and elicit action and spread truth through education.
“Gradually the gay community is trying not to succumb to the pressure to get married, but once people reveal their sexuality at home, their family members fail to understand and shun them. And since people in India are dependent on parents for financial and emotional needs until late youth, it leaves them with two options – either agree with the parents or be left without resources. I want the community to be independent.”
Since stigma and discrimination are still prevalent among LGBTQA people in India, Prince Manvendra said the center is needed in order to build confidence among this vulnerable sector of Indian society. Most of the LGBTQ people in India, he narrated, are discriminated against because of their sexual preference.
“It is important for the LGBT community to go to a place where they can experience the freedom to be who they are even if it’s for a moment. This center will give them the independence to do all those things which they are unable to do living a double life in the society.”
He added that coming out is very difficult, especially with the kind of culture India has. Prince Manvendra, in fact, was disowned by his family after learning that he was gay. This, according to him, was not easy to bear.
“When I came out in 2006, my own family disowned me and other royal families boycotted me. I see similar things happening to other people and they are left devastated.”
The prince, however, advised the LGBTQA community to be on their own and have their own social standing before coming out.
“Fortunately, I was on my own financially, and since we grew up with a nanny, I wasn’t very emotionally attached to my parents. But when they saw me doing well on my own and being making it to Oprah Winfrey’s show thrice and recently to Keeping Up With The Kardashians, they accepted me back. Now, the royal family wants selfies with me!”
But while the undertakings of the prince are worthwhile and something to look forward to, a lot of work still needs to be done before the center finally comes to fruition. Manvendra is looking for volunteers and sponsors who can make his advocacy be a reality.