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Culture

Kal Penn finally came out, sharing how he and his partner fell in love in his new book

Kal Penn fiance, Kal Penn book

Kal Penn on Instagram

When people picture Kal Penn, they most likely think of a certain stoner with a munchie-induced craving for hamburgers. Others might remember Penn's two-year stint as an associate director in the Office of Public Engagement during the Obama presidency. But whether you associate him with White Castle or the White House, Penn recently revealed what most of the world did not know about him: that he is also the loving fiancé to his partner, Josh, of 11 years. His first public coming out came alongside the promotion for Penn's new memoir, "You Can't Be Serious."


The actor known for his roles in the "Harold and Kumar" movie series tweeted that the book delves into his story of growing up as the son of immigrants, moving out to Hollywood to pursue a dream of "making people laugh" (which apparently involved some racist auditions for shows like "Sabrina The Teenage Witch") and taking a break from acting to work at the White House. The book also covers Penn's relationship with his partner Josh, including their first date watching NASCAR.

According to People, "You Can't Be Serious" details their meet-cute, with Josh arriving at Penn's apartment with an 18 pack of Coors Light, ready to watch a car race. Penn wasn't quite ready to think of this date as romantic. But don't worry, this love story has a happy ending.

"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 making 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 mean … if that's not love, I don't know what is.

For Penn, this aspect of his identity came later in life. He shared with People that "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."

Penn also shared that coming out to his parents was relatively easy, telling People 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. They're just like, 'Yeah, okay.'" He noted that everyone has different coming out experiences and that he was "very fortunate" to receive his family's support.

Though Penn has been very eager to share his relationship, he had the challenge of respecting Josh and his family, who "don't love attention and shy away from the limelight." This includes a "big disagreement" on whether or not to do a huge wedding or a tiny wedding. Penn told People, "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." I think all couples are really just different versions of tiny wedding Josh's and big ass wedding Kal's.

Of course, we're striving to create a world where instead of headlines reading "Kal Penn Comes Out and Is Engaged," we can see something as simple as "Kal Penn Is Engaged" without needing a public announcement of sexual orientation. But the truth is that for many cultures this subject is still under a challenging stigma. And for someone like Penn to normalize it helps others like him make it normal too.

Take a look at some of the responses he's received online.


One person wrote: "this was originally gonna be a generic Halloween tweet about a costume but given that he came out today & announced he is engaged to his boyfriend of 10 years I just wanna say thank you @kalpenn for inspiring a whole generation of Indian kids to break stereotypes. I owe u so much"

This comment pretty much sums it up: "because of you I felt safe pursuing entertainment, and now thanks to you millions of LGBTQ+ indian people will get to see themselves represented in the mainstream media."

Sometimes these seemingly small moments of expressing individual truth helps others live their lives in a more authentic way.

Others responded that they were disappointed in Penn's announcement, including journalist Louis Peitzman, who wrote "Kal Penn coming out by announcing he's marrying someone who isn't me … that's a choice."

Considering that Penn has been listed as "Most Eligible Bachelor" by People magazine, I'd say he's probably left many feeling unrequited love. It's well worth the broken hearts, Kal! Congrats to you and Josh.

Penn told People that he wanted his book to feel like "sharing a beer" together while he brought people into his stories. You'll be able to check out those stories for yourself on Nov 2.

True

Do you ever feel like you could be doing more when it comes to making a positive impact on your community? The messaging around giving back is louder than ever this time of year, and for good reason; It is the season of giving, after all.

If you’ve ever wondered who is responsible for bringing many of the giving-back initiatives to life, it’s probably not who you’d expect. The masterminds behind these types of campaigns are project managers.

Using their talents and skills, often proven by earning certifications from the Project Management Institute (PMI), project managers are driving real change and increasing the success rate on projects that truly improve our world.

To celebrate the work that project managers are doing behind the scenes to make a difference, we spoke with two people doing more than their part to make an impact.

In his current role as a Project Management Professional (PMP)-certified project manager and environmental engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Joshua Williard oversees the cleanup of some of America’s most contaminated and hazardous waste sites.

Courtesy of Joshua Williard

“Recently, I was part of a four-person diving team sent to collect contaminated sediment samples from the bottom of a river in Southeastern Virginia. We wanted to ensure a containment wall was successfully blocking the release of waste into an adjacent river,” Williard says.

Through his work, Josh drives restoration efforts to completion so contaminated land can again be used beneficially, and so future generations will not be at risk of exposure to harmful chemicals.

“I’ve been inspired by the natural world from a young age and always loved being outside. As I gained an understanding about Earth's trajectory, I realized that I wanted to be part of trying to save it and keep it for future generations.

“I learned the importance of using different management styles to address various project challenges. I saw the value in building meaningful relationships with key community members. I came to see that effective project management can make a real difference in getting things done and having on-the-ground impact,” Williard says.

In addition, Monica Chan’s career in project management has enabled her to work at the forefront of conservation efforts with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US). She most recently has been managing a climate change project, working with a diverse team including scientists, policy experts, data analysts, biologists, communicators, and more. The goal is to leverage grants to protect and restore mangroves, forests, and ecosystems, and drive demand in seaweed farming – all to harness nature's power to address the climate crisis.

Courtesy of Monica Chan

“As the project management lead for WWF-US, I am collaborating across the organization to build a project management framework that adapts to our diverse projects. Given that WWF's overarching objectives center on conserving nature and addressing imminent threats to the diversity of life on Earth, the stakes are exceptionally high in how we approach projects,” says Chan.

“Throughout my journey, I've discovered a deep passion for project management's ability to unite people for shared goals, contributing meaningfully to environmental conservation,” she says.

With skills learned from on-the-job experience and resources from PMI, project managers are the central point of connection for social impact campaigns, driving them forward and solving problems along the way. They are integral to bringing these projects to life, and they find support from their peers in PMI’s community.

PMI has a global network of more than 300 chapters and serves as a community for project managers – at every stage of their career. Members can share knowledge, celebrate impact, and learn together through resources, events, and other programs such as PMI’s Hours for Impact program, which encourages PMI members to volunteer their time to projects directly supporting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“By tapping into PMI's extensive network and resources, I've expanded my project management knowledge and skills, gaining insights from seasoned professionals in diverse industries, including environmental management. Exposure to different perspectives has kept me informed about industry trends, best practices, and allowed me to tailor my approach to the unique challenges of the non-profit sector,” Chan says.

“Obtaining my PMP certification has been a game-changer, propelling not only my career growth, but also reshaping my approach to daily projects, both personally and professionally,” Chan says. Research from PMI shows that a career in project management means being part of an industry on the rise, as the global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030 and the median salary for project practitioners in the U.S. is $120K.

PMI’s mission is to help professionals build project management skills through online courses, networking, and other learning opportunities, help them prove their proficiency in project management through certifications, and champion the work that project professionals, like Joshua and Monica, do around the world.

For those interested in pursuing a career in project management to help make a difference, PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification could be the starting point to help get your foot in the door.

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