Indian American actor Kal Penn comes out as gay

Kal Penn (Courtesy of twitter)

‘Harold and Kumar’ star says he wants a big Indian wedding, but his partner Josh would prefer a ‘quick 20-minute thing’

Born Kalpen Suresh Modi, noted Indian American actor and former President Barack Obama’s adviser Kal Penn has come out as gay, and revealed that he’s engaged to Josh, his partner of 11 years.

The 44-year-old star, who rose to fame in the “Harold & Kumar” movies, opened up about his sexuality publicly for the first time ahead of Tuesday’s release of his new memoir, ‘You Can’t Be Serious.’

“I discovered my own sexuality relatively late in life compared to many other people,” he said in an interview with People magazine, published Sunday. “There’s no timeline on this stuff. People figure their s*** out at different times in their lives, so I’m glad I did when I did.”

Son of Gujarati immigrant parents from Kaira and Baroda, Kalpen also told the publication that he felt “very supported” when he came out to his loved ones.

Read: Kal Penn’s new memoir is a must-read for brown kids in America (October 14, 2021)

Kalpen grew up in New Jersey, where his father Suresh Modi was an engineer and his mother Asmita Bhatt was a fragrance evaluator for a perfume company.

He once explained that he took the name Kal Penn almost as a joke after he was told an anglicized name on his resume would result in more job interviews.

The book covers a wide range of themes and Penn’s life experiences, from the opportunities and obstacles that he faced as a person of color in Hollywood and making the “terrifying/rewarding” decision to put his acting career on pause for two years for the White House.

“I hope ‘You Can’t Be Serious’ shows how it’s okay to have more than one life story,” said Penn, who joined the White House Office of Public Engagement as an associate director dealing with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the arts community in 2009.

“No matter who you are or where you come from, you can make more choices than just those presented to you. My story is about struggle, triumph, & learning how to keep your head up.

“And okay, yes, it’s also about how I once accidentally (and very stupidly) accepted an invitation to take the entire White House Office of Public Engagement to a strip club — because, let’s be honest, that’s the kind of stuff you really want to hear about.”

Sharing the story of how he and his fiancé met and fell in love while living in Washington, DC, Penn said he wanted to be transparent and authentic — “for the reader to feel like we’re having a beer together” — without compromising the privacy of his loved ones, who he says shy away from the limelight.

Read: Kal Penn’s 90s audition scripts highlight racism in Hollywood (March 15, 2017)

“Figuring out the narrative [in the book], of how to respect who they really are, with telling my story — that includes: my work life, both in Hollywood and DC, it includes my love life with Josh and how we met, it includes my parents, to the extent that I’m willing to share stories about their upbringing,” he told the magazine.

“So that was the most important thing for me. I wanted my story to be authentic from my perspective and told in a way that makes you feel like you really get to know me.”

Recalling the conversations, Penn said: “I shared things with my parents and close friends first. I know this sounds jokey, but it’s true: When you’ve already told your Indian parents and the South Asian community that you intend to be an actor for a living, really any conversations that come after that are super easy.”

“They’re just like, ‘Yeah, okay.’ … That’s a wonderful thing. I know everybody has different experiences with that and so I definitely feel very fortunate,” he said.

Speaking of the couple’s wedding plans, Penn said he wants a big Indian wedding but his partner would prefer a “quick 20-minute thing with our families and that’s it.” The actor said the pair would have to “meet halfway in the middle.”

In addition to the ‘Harold & Kumar’ franchise, Penn’s acting credits also include appearing in ‘House,’ ‘Designated Survivor,’ ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory.’

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One Comment

  1. Congratulations! Everyone deserves to be happy with the person they love!

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