Friday, April 30, 2010

People's (Gay) Prince

I get into the elevator from the 11th floor club room to get to the hotel lobby in San Francisco one Saturday afternoon and I see two guys with a slight funk factor, chatting each other up.
“Is that where you buy all your swim wear?” The blonde guy asks the muscle guy with more interest than all my shopaholic friends display when they inquire about a new something at brunch.
“There. Hollister. It depends. But OMG I have to give you the name of this website. It has like yum swimsuits for us.” The muscle guy replies with the thrill of a new bride showing off her wedding ring, putting an extra emphasis on “us”. I am leaving all the body language to your imagination by the way.
“Good deal. I’m still new to the area you know.” Blondie confesses.

“Yea don’t worry about a thing. You’ll be taken care of.” Muscle man says with a mischievous smile.

The elevator reaches the lobby level and the door opens. But before I could step out, the muscle guy, with an animated expression on his face, bows and tells me “show time honey”.

See this is why I need a gay friend. No one’s told me that before! And it seriously helped add that spring in my step although I was just meeting a few regular friends. I hate to generalize but they’re so full of life. And I love their perspective on most things and their arty eye and their uninhibited opinions and their sense of humor and their fashion gene and… ok now I’m getting carried away so forget I said that. Back to the episode. That would be just another scenario if you’re in SFO. It’s not the gay capital for nothing.

But the story I heard today has disconcerted me a tad. Only because I didn’t expect it. It might uproot you too if you haven’t heard it before.

He's lanky and completely sans the royal ego. Cool, calm and approachable, he teaches yoga on the lake front to a responsive group of people. He's an activist who works hard to prevent the spread of HIV through his NGO. He's one of those with multiple first or middle names. Add the words 'his royal highness' to name and it would become seven words long. He is Manvendra Singh Raghubir Gohil, the prince of Rajpipla. And oh yeah, he's gay. Minor detail I guess. I wonder if he's ever had a boyfriend in a town like that though. Amidst family disownment (emotional; I don't believe the legal system allows for that anymore) and contempt from his region, it's a shocker he's not only survived in that place but evolved. I can already see Oprah nodding. His NGO has provided services to some 17k gay men so far in Gujarat (what? 17k gay men in Gujarat) and he plans to create an old age home for gay men in Rajpipla (holy cow). A people's prince in the real sense. Having heard the details from an interview, I feel ignorant. I still don't know the details of the last massive project hubby has been working on for years and that's ok but if THIS I learn for the first time, I must be ignorant.

Now imagine I’m going down the elevator at a hotel in Rajpipla. And imagine the same scenario as the San Fran one. Tell me your jaw is down at the ground and your eyes have popped out! Not too far from that day, are we?

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