Kal Penn has some exciting news to share: The actor, who rose to fame in the Harold & Kumar films, is engaged to his longtime partner, Josh.
Penn, 44, hasn’t spoke publicly about his sexuality in the past. While he says he’s always maintained an open attitude with those around him, Josh (whose last name has not been revealed) and their family members are more “quiet” about their personal lives.
“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 to promote his new memoir, You Can’t Be Serious. “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.”
Penn also appeared on CBS Sunday Morning this week, where he spoke about his experience sharing his relationship with both his readers and his family.
“I mean, you know, Josh and I’ve been together for 11 years,” said Penn. “We had our 11th anniversary in October. So, for me in writing about it, I think the tricky thing was… 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 explained that he and Josh met while Penn worked for the Obama administration in Washington, D.C. The book details how they fell in love, despite a first date in which Josh arrived at Penn’s apartment with an 18-pack of Coors Light and put on NASCAR.
“I thought, ‘This obviously is not going to work out,'” Penn 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 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.”
In regards to his being gay, Penn said he “discovered my own sexuality relatively late in life compared to many other people.” However, he believes that “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.”
Now, the couple is in the midst of wedding planning. While Penn said he wants “the big ass Indian wedding,” Josh is a little bit more interested in keeping things quiet. “Josh who 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,” Penn told People.
In his interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the New Jersey-bred Penn shared how he didn’t see anyone who looked like him on television growing up.
“If you’ve always grown up seeing people who look like you on screen, I totally understand why a lot of people are like, ‘Well, what’s the big deal?'” he said. “But to be invisible, it kind of makes you feel like your possibilities might be limited.”
But it was a drama teacher at his high school that saw a spark in Penn, and encouraged him to pursue an acting career. Of course, Penn famously went on to ditch acting for several years when he took a job working with the Obama administration as a member of the Office of Public Engagement, with a focus on connecting with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The career move was unexpected at the time, and Penn said he remembers his manager being “very perplexed.” Still, Penn maintains that it’s not the politics that reeled him in.
“I don’t like politics; I like public service,” he told CBS. “And that goes back to my grandparents who marched with Gandhi in the Indian independence movement. And those were the dinner table conversations that we had.”
The actor went on to return to life in front of the camera, starring in the comedy series Sunnyside and on the CBS psychological drama Clarice.
On Sunday, Penn shared a video thanking fans for their supportive messages on social media.