Kal Penn, star of the Harold and Kumar film franchise, Designated Survivor, House, and How I Met Your Mother has come out as gay in his new memoir You Can’t be Serious.
In a interview with People magazine, Penn, 44, discussed his decision to come out, his partner Josh, and why he hadn’t made his sexuality publicly known before now.
“There’s no timeline on this stuff,” said Penn, who currently stars on the CBS crime drama Clarice. “People figure their s— out at different times in their lives, so I’m glad I did when I did.”
Correspondent @lukeburbank talks with Penn about confounding the expectations of his South Asian American family, and about Penn's candid new memoir, "You Can't Be Serious." https://t.co/CKtd29bA17 pic.twitter.com/dcllSSd9tc
— CBS Sunday Morning 🌞 (@CBSSunday) October 30, 2021
‘I Wanted My Story To Be Authentic’
“Figuring out the narrative 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,” Penn told People.
“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,” said Penn.
Penn spoke more about his partner in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, saying, “Josh and I’ve been together for 11 years. We had our 11th anniversary in October. So, writing about it… it’s very matter-of-fact in our lives, and when you’re the son of Indian immigrants who says that you want to be an actor, the chaos that that creates in your family and your community, will trump anything else, always.”
In his book, Penn describes his first date with Josh and how his now-partner showed up with a case of Coor’s Light, and turned on the television to watch NASCAR.
A Big Indian Wedding
— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) October 31, 2021
“I really hope that people enjoy the book. I hope it makes people laugh and smile,” Penn told People. “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.”
In an Instagram post, Penn said, “I hope You Can’t Be Serious shows how it’s okay to have more than one life story. No matter who you are or where you come from, you can make more choices than just those presented to you.”
While he may only have just come out publicly, Penn did post two pictures on Instagram June 28 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City to which he added, “A very fun NYC Sunday. Happy Pride y’all!” He was joined in one of the photos by Chasten Buttigieg, husband of former Democratic Presidential candidate and US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
View this post on Instagram
Not everyone was thrilled by the extensive media attention Penn’s coming out received. Chasten Buttigieg, tweeted, “To write a deeply intimate and hilarious book about acting, politics, family, identity, and navigating those spaces as a man of colour only to have an article focus on your gayness highlights exactly why @kalpenn aptly titled his book You Can’t Be Serious.”
Penn also served as the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, in Barack Obama’s administration from 2009-2011, using his birth name of Kalpen Modi. During his tenure in the White House, Penn was the liaison to young people as well as the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
To write a deeply intimate and hilarious book about acting, politics, family, identity, and navigating those spaces as a man of color only to have an article focus on your gayness highlights exactly why @kalpenn aptly titled his book “You Can’t Be Serious.” https://t.co/kKSdTV9YuK
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) October 31, 2021
Penn also served on President Donald Trump’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities but resigned following Trump’s response to the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
You Can’t Be Serious, published by Simon & Schuster, will hit bookstore shelves November 2.