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Prince Manvendra knew if he told the world he was gay, it could cost him the throne and his freedom. In India, sexual acts between people of the same sex are illegal and punishable by 10 years to life in prison.

Still, the prince was determined to reveal his truth. "Telling the truth, I will never regret," he says.

In a 2006 newspaper interview, Prince Manvendra came out to the world. The people in his village were outraged. "It was like an earthquake," he says. "People are so agitated and furious that their prince brought shame to us, to the family, shame to our heritage. Shame to the lineage."

Prince Manvendra says his father, the king, refuses to accept that his only son and heir to the throne is gay. "It is not natural. Anything which is not natural is not something which you can't procreate. We always hope for the better. So, you know, like he has some sort of a change in his mind or his attitude," King Ragubir said in an interview.

The queen was livid. "She said, 'You had done something most wrong so you don't deserve to be blessed at all,'" Prince Manvendra says. "She thinks I am a criminal and I should be punished for that."

The queen took out an ad in a newspaper to announce she was disowning her son and threatened to hold anyone who referred to the prince as her son in contempt. "I wasn't shocked. Actually I don't blame her. I blame her ignorance," Prince Manvendra says. "As most of the Indians do about homosexuality. They are very, very, insensitive and unavailable on the whole issue."

Although they live in the same palace, Prince Manvendra says he and his mother live in separate wings. "We do accidentally bump into each other, but she tries to avoid me," he says. "She just will try to turn her face away from me or try to avoid coming down that moment of the time when I am maybe crossing her way."

The prince says he and his mother were never close before he came out, but her behavior still has an effect on him. "Why should there be any discrimination on the basis of one's sexuality? I mean, what have I done wrong that I should be treated in this manner?"
FROM: Gay Around the World
Published on January 01, 2006