Douglas-Saugatuck Hosts Gay Prince


India's Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil will be traveling to Douglas-Saugatuck on Aug. 17 to discuss his new public awareness campaign, "Free Gay India."

The event, which takes place at The Kirby in Douglas, will be hosted by Chicago human rights attorney Jay Paul Deratany, an accomplished author, playwright, screenwriter and movie producer who wrote the GLAAD-nominated play "Haram Iran," based on the true story of the hanging of two Iranian teenagers who were alleged to be gay.

"I have followed Prince Manvendra's compelling story and the challenges he faced when he chose to come out about his sexual preferences in 2002," says Deratany. "I'm honored to welcome him to The Kirby. I'm thrilled that he chose our community to discuss the important work he is doing with his Free Gay India campaign."

In 2002, the Crown Prince challenged tradition by coming out to his parents who then tried to change him with therapies and religious leaders. The Maharaja and Queen threatened to out him publicly if he did not "become straight." He succumbed to the thought that if they were going to out him as a threat, he might as well out himself. He did so on the front page of a local newspaper on March 14, 2006. At that point, he was disowned by his family, burned in effigy and withstood calls to strip him of his title and make him an outcast.

The Hindu Prince is the 39th heir to a 650-year-old Indian dynasty and is the only openly gay prince in the world. In 2006, Manvendra received the UNAIDS Civil Society Award from the United Nations, and has also appeared twice on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to share his story of struggle and how he ultimately found peace. After India recently re-criminalized homosexual acts, Prince Manvendra launched a global public awareness campaign (Free Gay India) to confront LGBT discrimination in his homeland and around the world.

A royal brunch and Q&A session will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 17 at The Kirby, 294 W. Center Street, Douglas. The Kirby is a historic mansion that Deratany recently purchased and renovated to create a boutique hotel and wine bar. Tickets are $30. Space for the brunch and presentation is limited and required reservations can be made by emailing Mindy Trafman, general manager for The Kirby, at mindytrafman@gmail.com.

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