HRC Blog

Prominent Kenyan Writer Comes Out as Gay

Binyavanga WainainaOne of Africa's leading literary authors and celebrated Caine Prize winner, Binyavanga Wainaina, responded this weekend to the wave of anti-LGBT legislation in African countries by publicly coming out as gay in a short story, "I Am a Homosexual, Mum."

The lauded 43-year-old African author is the first high profile Kenyan to come out. The social and legal context of Africa makes coming out a rare occurrence, especially for a public figure. Fifty-four countries in Africa, including Kenya, criminalize same-sex conduct.

In "I Am a Homosexual, Mum," the award-winning author spoke of his longtime struggle to accept his true identity. With his brave decision to come out, he is poised to become a still-louder voice for LGBT rights in Africa through his literary work.

Calling the story “the lost chapter” from his 2011 memoir, the self-described pan-Africanist said the timing of his announcement was far from accidental, but rather a sign of support of the LGBT Africans persecuted under newly-enacted anti-LGBT laws in Nigeria and Uganda.

Wainaina, author and founder of the influential Nairobi-based literary journal, "Kwani", said he would continue to travel to Nigeria and Uganda, despite the increasing persecution of LGBT people.

Coming out as LGBT or allied is a deeply personal journey for each individual. For more resources, visit HRC’s Coming Out Center.




Photo via Wikimedia Commons 

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