He was one of the few Indians to be invited to the Oprah Winfrey show, was one of the candidates for Time Magazine’s World Top 100 Most influential People list in 2007, have been quoted and interviewed by respected magazines and news dailies from all over the world; he is one of the most prominent face in LGBT rights activism and HIV awareness activity; he hosts an annual cultural festival at his palace for homosexual artists to celebrate their talent and their being, yet he is someone who is hardly talked about on Indian mainstream media. A convenient silence, deafness and blindness prevail on us when it comes to homosexuality – but not any more.
I wrote about Prince Manvendra Singh on this space exactly a year ago on my post ‘Its time to stand up and stand tall’ where I said “only when the number of people identifying themselves as queer is large enough and the faces known enough will the society realize it is not something so unnatural after all. And this responsibility lies with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people themselves to come out of their closet and be confident of their sexuality. It’s time to stand up and stand tall.”
And they did. In just one year the queer movement in India has grown by leaps and bounds. There are more popular culture celebrities who now openly support homosexuality, most vocal of them being Celina Jaitly who have called out for gay rights in India in her blog on Times of India. The last year or so saw movies like ‘Partner’, ‘Dostana’ which had both explicit and implicit homo-eroticism and gay rights advocacy. While our cinema and advertisement have always had depiction of male homosexuality albeit in a funny and derogatory manner, we have been terribly silent over female homosexuality. This also changed (very insignificantly) in the recent past, a certain Virgin Mobile TV commercial is the case in point, where a girl tells her father that she is not interested in going out with this boy from her class. The father gets all worried thinking she might turn out to be a lesbian and insisted she goes out with boys more.