Gandhi was Gay? We say Yay.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Mar 27, 2011
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From an Indian commenter: “Indians need to know about this so that they understand that people can do great things regardless of whether they are gay or not. They need to understand that sexual orientation is totally irrelevant to an individual’s character, and what better way to illustrate this than by showing that the so-called greatest Indian ever was gay? You cannot combat the effects of ignorance and lack of education by holding back even more information and knowledge.”

Yet more proof that love & ahimsa knows no bounds.

History books may have suppressed the fact, but Shiva bless: we’re living in a somewhat more open and tolerant age, now.

According to a new biography, Gandhi had a youthful love for a German bodybuilder named Hermann.

Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal:

Yet as Mr. Lelyveld makes abundantly clear, Gandhi’s organ probably only rarely became aroused with his naked young ladies, because the love of his life was a German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach, for whom Gandhi left his wife in 1908. “Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom,” he wrote to Kallenbach. “The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed.” For some reason, cotton wool and Vaseline were “a constant reminder” of Kallenbach, which Mr. Lelyveld believes might relate to the enemas Gandhi gave himself, although there could be other, less generous, explanations.

Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about “how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.” Gandhi nicknamed himself “Upper House” and Kallenbach “Lower House,” and he made Lower House promise not to “look lustfully upon any woman.” The two then pledged “more love, and yet more love . . . such love as they hope the world has not yet seen.”

More (including photo of Hermann) at Gawker (of course).

PS: Gandhia was also a huge hypocrite (according to Stephen Colbert, that is).


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


30 Responses to “Gandhi was Gay? We say Yay.”

  1. Lori L. says:

    I so very very much do NOT want to contemplate Ghandi's affairs of the flesh. with all he offered the world, what a disappointment to see him dragged through 21st century media mud that has to debase everything and make a spiritual soul into fodder for gossip. shame on this!

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Sorry, how does being gay (or straight) for that matter debase his work? What's wrong with sexuality? ~ Waylon

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Sorry, how is being gay or reporting on such salacious? Again, I think it's wonderful to know that various heroes and idols of history were human in ways that history books may not acknowledge.

    I'll give your comment a thumbs up, anyways, here's to dialogue!



  4. elephantjournal says:

    Justin Stone-Diaz funny watching this story hit the mainstream. G's appreciation of the Greek Model of Love was well known but has been played down by his estate & family.

    Mary Fox I did always wonder why he spent so much time away from his wife. Was she supposed to like living like his sister? This sort of fits with my feelings about Gandhi. Too bad he wasn't a gay rights activist. Think of what he could have accomplished.

    Cathleen Ma Doolin GEEZ why is it such an OVERwhelming that people think they need to know so much personal info about private things, I dont care what someone choices are as long AS THEY LEAVE CHILDERN, and handicap people alone !!!! unless the job they do is impacked by their behavior.

    David Atlas Very disappointing post. Elephant Journal is indeed the Gawker of yoga.

    Jennifer Campbell This is by far the most stimulating blog I've read in sometime! Kudos elephant journal u have stimulated my pineal gland! I love it! Ghandi was Gay!!! That's the best news I've heard today!

    # David, I think it's wonderful to know more about our idols and heroes, and to know that sexuality—whether straight, gay, bi, lesbian….is timeless. I think it's possible to report on such without appealing to the base instincts of humanity. We love Gandhi and love LGBT. You? If, likewise, someone told me the Thoreau practiced Eastern meditation, we'd blog that up. Oh, wait, he did; and we have. ~ Waylon

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Of course it doesn't matter. And if it doesn't matter—and it doesn't need to be suppressed. Openness, tolerance, coming out of the historical closet—it's all healthy. ~ Waylon

  6. NotSoSure says:

    I've disagreed with Waylon a number of times and even hurt his feelings with bad jokes. But I have never seen Waylon make a post purely for "titillation". Facts are facts. If the report is true that Ghandi was gay/bi/straight whatever I for the life of me cannot understand how making mention of one of Ghandi's relationships is "salacious" or "intellectually disingenuous". Ghandi made a triumph of his life. But he was also a human being. Being gay is not inherrently "bad" just like being straight is not inherrently "good".

  7. BenRiggs says:

    I think all the blow back from this story rests on a single point… It SEEMS like Gandhi is being snatched up as the new poster child of the LGBT community. There is nothing wrong with LGBT, but it SEEMS like associating such a great person with such a microscopic detail on such a grand scale minimizes Gandhi's legacy…

    With that said there are a ton of people that could benefit from reading this story. A gay teenager being bullied into thinking there is something wrong with him/her hearing this story could realize they stand in good company!

  8. Yolanda says:

    What happened to the post "Why I decided not to Intern for elephant journal"?

  9. Ramesh says:

    Am surprised that the background of the author of the wall street journal article has not been raised, or the 'facts' not verified. Yet we are very quick at weaving a reality around … For whose benefit … Get that clarifed and ananda has to follow

  10. Sarah says:

    I wondered about that myself.

  11. Akshey says:

    Mr Waylon Lewis,unfortunately you and the writer has very little knowledge of Gandhi and his quest for truth,his experiments with truth,if he had been gay ,he would have declared it with out any inhibition,he was such a fearless character which many people in India and west fail to understand.

    He lived and died for "TRUTH" and "NON VIOLENCE " and his idea of platonic love transcends age ,gender,frontiers.

  12. Priscilla Wood says:

    Yes, I wonder the same thing..

  13. Krishna says:

    I have heard something regarding this before. What I think is kind of weird is the fact that he was sleeping with girls, not women. This is kind of sinister. I wouldn´t admire someone like that, really.
    I guess this post just confirms that all human beings have a dark side, even when they preach the highest values there is always duality.

  14. April says:

    Wow, the lack of support for the LGBTQ community here is kind of astounding. Ghandi being bisexual does not in any way affect his legacy. Especially to those who don't have any problems with bisexuality. Ghandi was a sexual being just like the rest of us. There is nothing wrong with him being associated with the LGBTQ community, and I think the people here that are so bothered by it are being homophobic/bi-phobic.

    Thanks Waylon, for an interesting and inclusive post ♥

  15. Martin says:

    Way, thanks for coming out as gay with this. You know we love you and Elephant.

  16. NotSoSure says:

    Exactly. If Ghandi was gay, big fucking deal. The vitriol spewed at Waylon for having the audacity to make this post tells me a lot about the true heart of many of the posters. It is easy to pretend to be open minded. It is much harder to be open minded when real life intrudes.

    An earlier post called Gandhi's sexuality a microscopic detail. That is true. Other microscopic details about Gandhi are that he spun his own cloth and made salt. No one accused the salt-making lobby of snatching Gandhi to be the "salt making" poster child. I wonder why that is.

    Good on you, Waylon.

  17. Memeo says:


    Author of the book denies that conclusion as do members of Gandhi's family

  18. Sara says:

    Maybe he thought that his message for the world was too important to risk jeopardizing with a confession that people were not ready to accept yet.

    I don't presume to know the motives of such a great man, but I think it's a bit hasty to assume that he would act one way or another definitively.

  19. elephantjournal says:

    Search & ye shall find…we asked for it, we love constructive criticism, it helps us improve. ~ Waylon

  20. elephantjournal says:

    If I were gay, I'd be proud of it. I'm not. Doesn't matter either way, does it Martin? ~ Waylon

  21. elephantjournal says:

    Really? I would say a major and significant world figure who stood of for the most ignored and downtrodden among us being a member of what was then and, if thumbs up/down on these comments are to be taken into account, still is considered some sort of "gossip" or "slight," well then I think that's news. Likewise, if it turned out FDR was Jewish or the Buddha was Christian, we'd report it. What's the difference in terms of "gossip", Maria?



  22. elephantjournal says:

    There's a lot of back and forth, certainly, and the facts are important. Thanks for sharing. ~ Waylon

  23. Diane D'Angelo says:

    I so look forward to the day when having same-sex relationships doesn't necessitate the label of gay or lesbian or bisexual or straight. The word "gay" has become meaningless and, yes, salacious. That said, that day will only thappen when people stop freaking out at the notion of heroes/celebrities/religious figures/ your kid/ YOU having a same-sex love.

  24. Aks says:

    If he had thought like that,he would not been Gandhi "We Know".
    He followed his principles stubbornly and did not compromised on it till his death,
    Gandhi was brutally honest on this path

    This is what separates him from lesser mortals.

  25. Martin says:

    And that is the point Way, you were able to refute your gayness real quick which you can't give Gandhi that same opportunity. Nothing wrong with being gay but I found it interesting you reacted so quick to say you are not.

  26. NotSoSure says:

    Yeah, it says that Waylon is actively involved on the EJ. What are the odds of Waylon being actively involved in EJ? It boggles the mind. Totally shocking.

  27. i think its all bullshit… Gandhi was not gay… I mean I have nothing agaist gays… But simple Gandhi was not gay.. read his autobiography… its just bullshit and gossip

  28. Claudia says:

    Wow, this really is very polarizing!

  29. Free Love! Cannot be bound or restrained. True or not, the world will still remember the essense of Gandhi and his contribution to mankind. His name is still synonmous with peace, regardless of any extraneous information.

  30. […] you in your daily awareness practices. The capabilities of social networking mean we can follow Gandhi’s advice”Be the change you wish to see in the world” on a deeper level. Now in the moment […]