Kal Penn reveals that he’s been in an eleven-year relationship with a man

Kal Penn arrives at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Per...

Kal Penn is a 44-year-old Indian-American actor, professor and political operative. He quit Hollywood for several years to work in the Obama administration, then came back to acting, and he’s taught classes at the University of Pennsylvania, although his alma mater is UCLA. No one has really known much about his personal life, and that’s by Kal’s design – he’s a private guy, and he wants his work to speak for itself. So I was stunned to learn that he’s been in a relationship with a man for eleven years! Turns out, no one knew anything about Kal’s sexuality or relationship. People are shocked! Kal revealed details about his relationship in his new memoir, You Can’t Be Serious. Some highlights from People’s exclusive:

Kal has been with his partner Josh for 11 years and the couple is engaged. In his new book You Can’t Be Serious, the actor shares the story of how he and Josh met and fell in love when Penn was living in Washington D.C., and tells PEOPLE about his decision to share their relationship with audiences. “I’ve always been very public with everybody I’ve personally interacted with. Whether it’s somebody that I meet at a bar, if Josh and I are out or we’re talking to friends. I’m really excited to share our relationship with readers. But Josh, my partner, my parents, and my brother, four people who I’m closest to in the family, are fairly quiet. They don’t love attention and shy away from the limelight.”

He doesn’t want to compromise the privacy of his loved ones. “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. 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.”

His first date with Josh: Josh a) arrived at his apartment with an 18-pack of Coors Light and b) instantly switched the TV to watch NASCAR. “I thought, ‘This obviously is not going to work out. I have one day off from The White House and this dude is unironically watching cars go around and make left turns? Next thing you know, it’s been a couple months and we’re watching NASCAR every Sunday. I’m like, ‘What is happening?’ I wanted the reader to enjoy the love and the humor through all of those stories.”

His parents are supportive: “I shared things with my parents and close friends first,” he says. “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.’ I felt very supported by everyone. That’s a wonderful thing. I know everybody has different experiences with that and so I definitely feel very fortunate.”

Figuring out his sexuality: “I discovered my own sexuality relatively late in life compared to many other people. 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.”

His wedding planning: “Obviously I am engaged to a man and our families will be there for the wedding. The big disagreement now is whether it’s a huge wedding or a tiny wedding. I want the big ass Indian wedding. Josh, hates attention, [has said], ‘Or we could just do quick 20-minute thing with our families and that’s it.’ So we have to meet halfway in the middle.”

[From People]

Now that I’ve read all the quotes, the most shocking thing is that he wants a big wedding! And that he fell in love with a guy who watches NASCAR. Oh God does Josh say sh-t like “git er done” and “you might be a redneck if…” Anyway, I’m very happy for Kal and it’s cool that everyone around him respected his privacy and his relationship.

2019 TCA NBC Press Tour Carpet

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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40 Responses to “Kal Penn reveals that he’s been in an eleven-year relationship with a man”

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  1. Rhoda Cowboy says:

    I’m very happy for Kal and Josh. It must be true love if he can tolerate a bunch of red neck jerk offs driving around in an oval all Sunday afternoon.

  2. sassy pomeranian says:

    I just cried reading this (maybe hormones). This is so sweet. I’m so happy his parents are supportive

  3. Barrett says:

    Warms my heart. I love love. The story ab NASCAR is hysterical.

  4. Alexandria says:

    So happy for him and that his parents are supportive 😊

  5. Katherine says:

    I’m happy we didn’t know this, we really don’t need to know everything about celeb’s personal lives. And I’m the kinda person who would want the wedding to be as quick and painless as possible so I can’t even describe how deeply I understand his fiance…. Having to compromise on this would be such a pain, but, of course, if your fiance wants a big wedding, you can’t just rob them of that. What a dilemma.

  6. Robyn says:

    This is so wholesome! Mazel tov to them!

  7. Noki says:

    Wow he has a pretty cool circle,he was never a been an attention seeker but for us to never have heard anything private about someone even remotely famous is rare.

    • Molly says:

      It’s probably a lot this, given his age, but I have so much hope for millennials and gen z, that info like sexuality isn’t a secret to be kept by your closest friends, but simply nbd and not worthy of some People mag cover story. We’ve come a very far way in a short amount of time.

      • Malificent says:

        I don’t think it’s age. I think it’s specific circumstances or community. I’m 12 years older than Kal — and all of my queer Gen X friends in my large Midwestern city/liberal arts college circle were out by early adulthood. A few were closeted at work for professional reasons, but all were out in their private life. But I also had friends who were not out at all to their conservative Bible Belt hometowns or families.

        It sounds like Kal would have not had a problem coming out publicly earlier. I’m not sure if the “privacy” he is talking about is because his parents’ or partner’s communities weren’t OK with it or just because they are individually private? Or a little of both? I get the feeling his partner was either not out to his family or (redneck?) hometown, and Kal wanted to honor his partner’s choice.

        Either way — I’m rooting for the big Indian wedding!

  8. JBee says:

    Best Wishes! Kal is a catch. Handsome, smart and funny. Can I be their perpetually single neighbor who comes over with wine after bad dates?? Is that a trope?

  9. Laura-Lee MacDonald says:

    I love his work and I’m so happy he is happy! Hurray!!!!!!!

  10. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    Aye, Kal, we’re more alike than I would’ve thought! I’m married to a NASCAR lover too but I don’t watch with him. I did go to a couple of races with him in the past for his birthday though. 😂 I’ve pre-ordered his audible book and am looking forward to it!

    • Miranda says:

      I’ve given in and gone to a few NASCAR races with my guy, too. He’s originally from Alabama, so we went to Talladega. That was an…interesting experience for bleeding heart lifelong Manhattanite like me. We have a very Green Acres vibe going on, except in out version, Eva Gabor got her way. Darling I love you, but give me Park Avenue!

  11. Steph says:

    This is so sweet. I want the big ass Indian wedding! I don’t know the culture (I am going to look into it tonight after work) but the visuals I’ve seen are all stunning!

    I’m so happy he’s happy. I don’t know why but I sensed a bit of giddiness in him talking about Josh. It’s really cute.

    • Winechampion says:

      I don’t know if you were serious, but if you’re not Indian and not marrying an Indian, you should probably not do that. 😬

      • Steph says:

        I wasn’t joking at all. What shouldn’t I do? Honest question.

      • Emma says:

        Steph — to avoid cultural appropriation.

      • Steph says:

        ok, I think I wasn’t clear in my writing for the original post. I want the big ass Indian wedding for him, not me.

      • Hikaru says:

        Oh, Steph, this whole comment chain had me laughing out loud.

      • Lyds says:

        Haha I totally knew where Steph was coming from a mile away but appreciated your reminder re: cultural appropriation because who could forget Katy Perry’s Indian wedding to Russell Brand? Ugh, seemingly (and understandably) everyone.

  12. BugsMalone says:

    This is all very nice, but he made a ton of money off of gay-bashing and homophobic jokes. No comment on that?

    • whatWHAT? says:

      “gay-bashing and homophobic jokes”?

      never heard that before…do you have links to stories about these jokes he made? perhaps a youtube link?

      • BugsMalone says:

        So you’ve never seen a Harold and Kumar movie? Get back to me when you do

      • BugsMalone says:

        The second one takes place in Guantanamo and the entire thing is homophobic and gross.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        only saw the first one once and it was a LONG time ago; I don’t recall any over homophobic jokes. in fact, I don’t recall much of the movie except that they go to Princeton U (grew up there) and that NPH is in it as himself, but NOT “himself”.
        didn’t see the second one. I’ll take your word for it.

      • BugsMalone says:

        It’s a film that I truly don’t think would be made today. And I honestly don’t know what NPH was thinking, being in that second film especially! I side-eyed his involvement back then haha

    • Miranda says:

      I’m NOT defending that sort of humor at all, but there is lots of homophobia within the queer community, with femme gay men being especially targeted in that way. I’ve volunteered with an AIDS service organization for almost 10 years, and I’ve heard some of the most vile homophobic abuse from MSM who rant against the “f—-ts” or trans sex workers whom they blame for giving them the virus; they themselves are not “f—-ts”, of course, because that word only applies to the passive partner. It’s also common for gay men who are closeted or still coming to terms with their sexuality to make homophobic jokes as a sort of defense mechanism. Kal says he was relatively late in accepting his homosexuality, and while we don’t know the timeframe he’s referring to, he could’ve been going through that phase while making the Harold and Kumar movies.

      All that said, I agree with you that someone needs to follow up with him on that and ask him how he feels now. He’s obviously an intelligent guy, so hopefully he would denounce them.

      • BugsMalone says:

        You make valid points, thanks for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully. I agree with what you’ve said here. I think the main thing for me is that while it’s not unheard of to hear some of that derogatory humor in gay spaces, it’s different when a straight person (or in this case, someone that was widely thought to be straight) uses it. It can be hurtful for many, and he profited off of that. I would like to see him address it.

    • PixiePaperdoll says:

      I didn’t seen him in anything until House so… love love love!

  13. ME says:

    Good for him. Live your truth dude !

  14. TQ says:

    So happy for Kal! Always had a lot of respect for him going to work in the White House and being active in the API community and on social justice issues. Congratulations to the happy couple!

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I know!! I didn’t realize he had joined the Obama administration until I saw him being featured on CBS Sunday Morning. He’s seems so likable and I am so happy for him!! His parents seem very supportive but he doesn’t divulge much about them, I think he likes to protect their privacy which is respectful.

  15. Watson says:

    Handsome, smart and in love! Love him and glad he’s happy!

  16. Mimi says:

    I love kal ❤️❤️❤️

  17. Lexistential says:

    I have loved him since seeing Harold and Kumar. This makes me so happy to read. I hope he gets the big Indian wedding!

  18. Ann says:

    Aw, I love Kal Penn. I’m happy for them. I think what he said about how after telling his parents he was going to be an actor, coming out was no big deal, is pretty funny.

    I went to one big Indian wedding. It was a blast. I can understand his fiancé’s POV too, though. Big weddings aren’t for everyone.

  19. Concern Fae says:

    My husband wasn’t into NASCAR, but was into Formula 1 and other levels of oval racing. One thing about it, is does allow for chatting. I also helped get me into knitting as I found that knitting while watching racing made the time not seem wasted.

    Best wishes to the happy couple.

  20. Ariel says:

    This delights me.