Kumar has finally found love! In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE on Sunday, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle star Kal Penn came out and revealed that he has been in a relationship with his partner Josh for 11 years. The happy couple are now engaged, and prepping for Josh and Kumar go to the White Chapel, despite their disastrous first date.
Penn spoke with PEOPLE about his decision to finally share his 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.”
In the interview for his new book You Can’t Be Serious, the actor decided to share more about the decision to come out to the world, as well as the story of how he and Josh met and fell in love in Washington D.C.
“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.”
Those who are familiar with the accomplished Harold & Kumar actor, who also appeared on House as a fellowship applicant who becomes suicidal and on How I Met Your Mother in the recurring role of “Kevin,” a therapist and later boyfriend of Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), know that he left acting in 2009 to work as the Principal Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement under the Barack Obama administration, which is where the now-engaged couple first met. At the time, Penn, 44, was taking a break from acting to focus on his role at the White House, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have time to find love, something that he wrote about in his memoir, You Can’t Be Serious.
According to Penn, their first date included drinking an 18-pack of Coors Light and learning that his soon-to-be-husband was a remote control stealer. On the couple’s first date, Josh walked in and immediately changed the TV channel to watch NASCAR. “I thought, ‘This obviously is not going to work out,'” Penn recalled, continuing, “I have one day off from The White House and this dude is un-ironically watching cars go around and make left turns?”
However, not every couple needs to be a match made in heaven on their first date. Some partners learn to love what their partner also loves, even if it’s something that they found unappealing at first. According to Penn, after a couple months of dating Josh, he found himself also watching (and enjoying) NASCAR every Sunday, and the rest is history.
According to the interview, Penn hasn’t shared many photos of Josh on social media due to the fact that he doesn’t “love attention” and tends to “shy away from the limelight.” However, before Penn’s official coming out in his interview with PEOPLE, a photo was posted by the actor during the June 27th Pride event in New York City outside the historical Stonewall Inn, the location of the first Pride march in the 1970s. The photo shows the Harold & Kumar actor with a group of other men, including Josh, who is wearing a backwards cap and standing next to Penn for the group shot.
There is also another photo of Josh on Penn’s social media page from the same Pride weekend, showing the couple at table with three friends and a dog. Penn captioned the two photos, “A very fun NYC Sunday. Happy Pride y’all!”
But why did the announcement take so long? Penn also opened up to PEOPLE about exploring his sexuality later in life, which is something that is common in the LGBTQ+ community because of societal prejudices. He said, “I discovered my own sexuality relatively late in life compared to many other people,” he shared. “There’s no timeline on this stuff. People figure their s-t out at different times in their lives, so I’m glad I did when I did. This news originated at People.