Africa: Kenyan Author Binyavanga Wainaina Comes Out

Celebrated Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina has come out as gay in response to anti-gay legislation in Nigeria and Uganda.  (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Celebrated Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina has come out as gay in response to anti-gay legislation in Nigeria and Uganda.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Tristan McConnell of is reporting that Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina has come out as a gay man amid the increasing anti-gay legislation (Uganda and Nigeria) and persecution happening throughout the continent of Africa. Binyavanga, who is considered to be one of Africa’s most powerful contemporary voices, recently published an article entitled, ‘I am a homosexual Mum.’ McConnell writes:

“On a continent where secrecy defines the gay experience and where a majority of countries outlaw homosexuality, coming out is a rare step for a public figure. Wainana’s piece, first published on Saturday, is being shared widely across social networks. “My dear @BinyavangaW writes a piece that springs open the prison doors of the heart,” tweeted Nigerian-born writer Teju Cole.

The timing of Wainaina’s coming out was a mixture of the personal and the political, and anything but accidental.

“Of course my friends knew, but I had been toying with how useful it would be to make a public statement for close to eight months,” Wainaina told GlobalPost on Monday, as his declaration of homosexuality picked up traffic on Africa Is A Country and Chimurenga Chronic, the two African websites where it was first published.”

Having returned to Kenya after living a “nomadic” life, Wainaina tired of living a life that was “false.”

McConnell continues:

“Wainaina struggled with the relative ease of being clandestinely gay while surrounded by his artist friends in cosmopolitan Nairobi, while elsewhere in Africa homosexuals faced increasing oppression.

Last month he went to a close gay friend’s memorial in the western town of Kisumu and learned that the friend’s Christian family had been rejected by the church due to their son’s sexual orientation. Yet the young man’s parents had accepted their son’s homosexuality and even welcomed ‘half the queens in Kisumu’ into their home to celebrate his life, Wainaina said.

Added to that were oppressive new anti-gay laws in Uganda and Nigeria. Ugandan parliamentarians passed a law in late December making ‘aggravated homosexuality’ punishable by life imprisonment [Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has refused to sign the bill into law]. An early draft proposed the death sentence. Nigeria’s president last week signed a law imposing 14-year jail terms for homosexual acts. ‘There was the anti-gay bill in Uganda first, but the Nigeria one! Nigeria is a country I go to — I was there three times last year — it is a place I love, it’s like a second home to me,” said Wainaina. “It’s hard to imagine any more repressive law of any kind anywhere in the world. It’s just the most terrible thing,’ he said.”


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