Influential Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina has revealed he is a homosexual in an autobiographical short story released to protest anti-gay laws on the continent.
One of Africa’s most powerful writers and a founder of the Nairobi-based literary network Kwani, Wainaina published a story online over the weekend of January 18th– 19th that announced his sexual orientation, entitled “I am a Homosexual, Mum”.
The announcement follows new research published by Amnesty International that shows anti-gay laws are increasing across parts of Africa.
The story generated widespread support on social media, but also came in for criticism. Homosexuality is outlawed in Kenya, although arrests are rare.
“Ten million thank yous to the thousands of Africans and others who have given all kinds of public love, support,” Wainaina said in a message on Twitter. “We live in a beautiful continent.”
“I, Binyavanga Wainaina, quite honestly swear I have known I am a homosexual since I was five,” he wrote in the short story.
Commenting on the Nigerian law, Wainaaina said: “There is no country in the world with the diversity, confidence and talent and black pride like Nigeria,” adding that the “anti-gay marriage law shames us all.”
Wainaina was the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002. He explained in an interview with the BBC why he chose to come out on his 43rd birthday.