Prince Manvendra, the man who made history as the first gay prince in India to declare publicly being gay, took some of his time in between his busy agenda fighting for human rights to take us on a journey to show us where he came from. During our private tour, we saw the roots of his Royal Family in the Kingdom of Rajpipla as we learned about history and culture of India. His trajectory as an activist for human rights started in 2006 when he came out as being gay on Oprah, when then his mom, the Queen, wrote a letter on the newspaper disowning him. Prince Manvendra knew that he could be part of a big change in India. The human rights of the LGBTQ community that have been denied for so many that are deprived of sexual genre identity in India have now become his personal mission.
The legacy His Highness is leaving behind to all the people that never had a chance to speak up for their rights started exactly when he decided to come out as being gay in 2006. Nothing stopped him, even a letter from his mom on the newspaper disowning him. The rebirth of Prince Manvendra happened when he decided to battle against the forces change. As an activist fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community, he had the world’s attention when Oprah invited him to share his story on her show a couple of times. Since then, India’s lack of rights – which were completely nonexistent at the time for the LGBTQ community – were exposed in a global scale and all eyes turned into India making Prince Manvendra one of the most influential voices of the gay community in the country if not the world.
Just a few days ago India celebrated the decriminalization of sex between men and we were invited by Prince Manvendra and Duke Deandre (his husband) to visit their kingdom in India , where they plan to turn one of their palaces into LGBTQ assistance center and the king’s palace into the first gay friendly resort of India. Manvendra opened the doors of his palace to rescue gays that found themselves in vulnerable situations. He also gave us a very personal, private tour (he drove) of several palaces owned and once owned by his family. This was an experience of a lifetime getting to see India for the first time with our own eyes but also from that of a crown prince and his partner the Duke. One of the first things we noticed was how much the province respects him. All of the places we went people would recognize him from television, Oprah and Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s. We had to stop multiple times for him to take pictures with his fans, it was really exciting to hangout with the Royals, not gonna lie! He’s not only loyal to this cause. He’s also a lot of fun and very comical, we felt very welcome because of his incredible hospitality and kindness, he even greeted us at the airport. We laughed almost the entire time with the both of them. We got to spend a full day together, he took us to the beautiful Swaminarayan Temple that was constructed on the bank of Narmada river and surprisingly is also a theme park. It was like a mini version of Disneyland of India, we had kids lining up to take pictures with us – remember this is a rural area of India and tourists are not seen there very often, so I guess they were just surprised by our difference in appearance. We watched the Ganesh parade that was really colorful (a lot of orange) and walked on this river ride around the temple that takes to the top of the structure where you pass through all the gods. It was a pretty cool experience, something that we will never forget.
Also Duke Deandre gave us a really interesting tour through the King’s palace, place that served as inspiration for him to create the scarf fashion line Hanumanteshwar1927. He showed us how he as the Creative Director incorporated some of the Royal clothing elements into his collection. 100% of the sales go to service the needs of the Lakshya Trust, a community based organization that supports charitable purposes.