HRH Manvendra Singh Gohil

HRH Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is a multifaceted individual known for his advocacy in promoting LGBTQ rights, social work, and his involvement in the music industry.

Early Life and Family

Prince Gohil was born in the city of Ajmer in Rajasthan. His parents are the Maharana of Rajpipla, Maharana Shri Raghubir Singhji Rajendrasinghji Sahib, and Maharani Rukmini Devi. He received his education at Bombay Scottish School. For pursuing higher studies, he attended the prestigious Amrutben Jivanlal College of Commerce and Economics. It is an esteemed institution within the Mithibai College campus in Vile Parle, Mumbai.

In a traditional custom, his parents arranged his marriage. In January 1991, he tied the knot with Chandrika Kumari, a princess hailing from the illustrious Jhabua State in Madhya Pradesh. After slightly over a year of marriage, his spouse initiated divorce proceedings.

He has had an extraordinary life story that is equal parts challenging and inspirational at the same time. Here is more information about HRH Manvendra Singh Gohil and his various initiatives:

LGBTQ Activism and Social Work:

  • He has been a staunch advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in India and worldwide, as he holds a particular reputation in society for being the first gay royal to come out of the closet. He gained international attention when he became the first royal family member in India to openly come out as a Gay Prince in 2006, much to the shock of traditional society.
  • He is the Chairperson and Co-founder of a charitable trust called Lakshya. Lakshya Trust is the first organization in Gujarat to work on HIV prevention among MSM (Men having sex with Men), gay people, and transgender populations. The trust creates employment opportunities for gay men and plans to open an old age home for them. The organization offers valuable services, including counselling facilities, clinics for treatment dedicated to sexually transmitted infections, well-stocked libraries, and active promotion of condom usage.
  • He is a founder, member, and former Western India Community Representative of INFOSEM (Integrated Network for Sexual Minorities), the most prominent Indian network of NGOs working on HIV/AIDS issues for sexual minorities in India.
  • He served as the Community Sector Representative of the India sub-region for MSMs (Men Having Sex with Men) of APCOM (Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health) from 2006 to 2010, working to improve the sexual health and well-being of sexual minorities.

Hanumanteshwar 1927 Private Label:

  • HRH Manvendra Singh Gohil owns Hanumanteshwar 1927, a private-label fashion brand that operates with a cause.
  • As the owner of Hanumanteshwar 1927, a private label fashion brand with a cause, he combines his passion for fashion and social activism to make a positive impact.
  • Hanumanteshwar 1927 uses fashion as a platform to raise funds and awareness for various social issues, including LGBTQ rights and empowerment.

Resource Centre for LGBTQ Community:

  • He is currently developing India’s first resource centre for the LGBTQ community at the royal establishment of Hanumanteshwar in Gujarat.
  • The resource centre aims to provide support, empowerment, and a safe space for the LGBTQ community, addressing their unique needs and challenges.

Background in Music:

  • Manvendra Singh Gohil has a deep passion for music and a background in Indian classical music.
  • He started playing the harmonium at the age of 5. He received a Diploma in Indian Classical Music (Vocal) at 13 from Sangeet Mahabharti, Mumbai.
  • He learned harmonium from Rupayatan Music classes, Mumbai, and tabla from Shri Bhupen Bhai Vaidya, Rajpipla.
    For the last 12 years, the renowned harmonium player Pt has trained him in solo harmonium. Purshottam Walavalkar, Mumbai.
  • He has given solo harmonium performances at various music festivals, including Rajpipla, Vadodara, Vansda, and international venues, such as the Gay Choir at Brighton (U.K.) and Guild Hall, Hamptons (USA).

It is interesting to note that Manvendra Gohil was criticized for his sexual orientation and labelled it as a mental disorder. He was made to seek the help of spiritual guides and even subjected to electroshock treatments for gay conversion therapy.

Prince Gohil, the 39th descendant of the Gohil Rajput dynasty, faced immense challenges when he courageously revealed his true identity to his parents in 2002. Tragically, instead of understanding and support, he experienced rejection from his family. His parents, the Maharana and Maharani of Rajpipla, disowned him. They even tried to keep his homosexuality under wraps. This profound personal journey unfolded four years before his candid newspaper interview, highlighting the complex and emotional path he had to navigate in embracing his authentic self.

According to him, in the present day, there is an ongoing struggle to address crucial issues such as same-sex marriage, the right to inheritance, and the right to adoption. These matters have become focal points for advocacy and social change, with dedicated individuals and organizations working tirelessly to achieve equality and justice for the LGBTQ+ community. The fight for recognition and legal protection of these rights remains essential to the broader movement toward a more inclusive and equal society.

His work promoting LGBTQ rights, social work, and his involvement in the music industry through his private label Hanumanteshwar 1927 demonstrates his dedication to creating positive change. His initiatives aim to empower the LGBTQ community, raise awareness about critical social issues, and preserve and promote Indian classical music and culture.

A Global Ambassador for Change

HRH Manvendra Gohil has taken his advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and dignity of life to the international stage. From being invited twice by Oprah Winfrey for her acclaimed shows “Gays Around the World” and “Where are they Now?” to leading pride marches in diverse cities like Sao Paulo, LA, and New York, he has been a powerful voice for change. His presence as the inaugural keynote speaker at the Human Rights Conference in New York, as part of the World Pride Celebration, further underscores his impact as a global ambassador for the betterment of society.