Kal Penn reveals he is gay and engaged to partner of 11 years

A man with a beard posing in a blue velvet suit
Actor Kal Penn attends the 2019 Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York.
(Evan Agostini / Invision / AP)

Actor Kal Penn has confirmed he is gay and engaged to be married. The news precedes the Tuesday release of his new memoir.

In his forthcoming book, “You Can’t Be Serious,” the “Harold & Kumar” star details falling in love with his future husband, Josh, whom he has been dating for 11 years. During an interview with People magazine, Penn reflected on going public with his sexuality and planning a wedding with someone who “hates attention.”

“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,” Penn told People in an interview published Sunday.

“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.”


After a weekend of airport protests across the country in response to President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees coming into the U.S., pushback has also come in another form: money.

The 44-year-old “Designated Survivor” alum also opened up about his personal journey coming into his sexual identity, which he discovered “relatively late in life compared to many other people.”

“There’s no timeline on this stuff,” he said. “People figure their s— out at different times in their lives, so I’m glad I did when I did.”

As for discussing his love life with his “parents and close friends,” Penn said he has “felt very supported by everyone” and “very fortunate” that his coming-out process has been positive, given that “everybody has different experiences with that.”

“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,” he said.

“They’re just like, ‘Yeah, OK.’”

Kal Penn: From ‘White Castle’ to White House and back

In “You Can’t Be Serious,” Penn sounds off about growing up as a second-generation immigrant in New Jersey, trying to break into Hollywood, weathering racist auditions (“Yeah, I remember you, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Son of the Mask,” he teased on Instagram), making his breakout stoner comedy “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and working at the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency.

He also recalls his first date with his now-fiancé, who showed up at his home with a large pack of beers and immediately put NASCAR on the TV.

“I thought, ‘This obviously is not going to work out,’” he told People. “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 of 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.”

Kal Penn, aka #sexyface, gives Democratic response to Eastwood

On Instagram, Penn said he is “especially proud” to release “You Can’t Be Serious” after working on the book for four and a half years. Currently, Penn is busy promoting his memoir and preparing for his nuptials.

“Obviously I am engaged to a man and our families will be there for the wedding,” he told People.

“The big disagreement now is whether it’s a huge wedding or a tiny wedding. I want the big a— Indian wedding. Josh ... [has said], ‘Or we could just do a quick 20-minute thing with our families and that’s it.’ So we have to meet halfway in the middle.”