Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil:

I came across a news story today about Prince Mavendra Singh Gohil. As I came to know, Prince MSG is the only member of royal lineage in the world to have openly come out as a homosexual - according to wikipedia. He must have caused quite a stir in India when he announced this as he is said to have been disowned by his family - but later re-accepted in. All of this would have been good background information for the article I stumbled upon.

I present - The Times of India Crazy article of the week.

Old & Helpless in Hetro India:
It could be called the WHW factor. It comes up when gay men or lesbian woman in India announce their intention of leading their lives on their own terms. Which may or may not mean being open about their sexuality, but usually does mean not doing the heterosexual-marriage-and-kids thing. Such a declaration to friends and family is met with a deep sigh and the question: "Well, maybe that's OK now, but What Happens When you grow old, fall sick, don't have family to take care of you?"

What Happens When (WHW) applies, of course, to all those who choose not to marry and have kids. But it's never invoked as strongly for straight people probably because friends and family always retain a residual shred of hope that they will someday find the right person, and perhaps even have kids. But saying you're gay or lesbian seems to close that door (not quite fairly, given the many gays and lesbians who want to adopt and raise kids) and condemn you to a bleak, lonely old age. "The middle age of buggers is not to be contemplated without horror," wrote Virginia Woolf (a married bisexual herself).

In less lurid terms, that sentiment is repeated at forums like the support meetings for the parents of gay people organised by the Gaybombay group. Parents say they can accept their children's sexuality, but worry what will happen when they are no longer around since their children won't have families of their own to take care of them. Their children counter that many straight people also end up single, which is correct, but shifts the problem rather than solves it. Shyam, who's 33, admits he often discusses it with gay friends: "Most have a great career and are earning well. I suggest that we pool funds and design a building where each member gets an apartment. So we live together but not in each other's face."

Something on those lines is now being proposed by Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla. Gohil's open admission some time back that he was gay caused a huge controversy in Gujarat and even made news around the world. But this did not deter him from working with his Lakshya trust to support sexual minorities in Gujarat, and it was in this connection that the idea of an old age home came about. "Old age is a fact of life," says Gohil. "Those of us likely to be single need to plan for it."

The actual impetus for the home, though, came not from a gay man, but a straight one. He goes by the name Trijayananad, an NRI, originally from Gujarat, who had gone to Canada to make his fortune but decided to retire back home. He always intended to start an old-age home, but after speaking with Gohil decided to make it a gay one. "He was influenced by his time in Canada," says Gohil. "He saw the freedom homosexuals have over there and the problems we have here."

So, now tell me - did any of you see the gay old folks home coming?