Guarav Gopalan, the scientist and actor found dead two blocks from his home in Columbia Heights, is remembered lovingly by friends who described his exploration of his feminine side:
It seemed to be a playful announcement, by and large. It wasn’t that Gopalan was surfacing some long-buried agony; it wasn’t that he was revealing himself as a transgender woman shaking free the bonds of a male body, or even taking the first steps toward what he thought of as a transgender identity. His friends are clear on that.
“There was a comfort in how he was deciding to present” himself that night, Henley says. And from Haney: “It was something he was exploring, something he was trying.” In a way that might have been connected with his spirituality, “he saw himself as male and female—everyone possesses male and female, he believed. They’re both important. I think it was a small part, the newest part” of his sense of self.
It’s true he was a little nervous, Haney and Henley say, wanting to be sure his look was perfect. He wondered what people would say, how they’d talk about what he was trying to do.
“He looked fabulous,” Henley says. “I said to him, ‘You’re like a character in a Godard film.'”
“He was so happy,” Haney says.