Today we honor and celebrate Binyavanga Wainaina. Wainaina lives his life as an out and visible gay man in his home country of Kenya. He has become a greatly celebrated gay rights activist for all of Africa — no small feat given the laws in Uganda and Nigeria criminalizing homosexuality. Sadly, even members of parliament in Wainaina’s home country of Kenya are now looking at adopting serious anti-gay laws.
Recently, Wainaina was described by Time Magazine “as one of the most influential people of the year.” The Kenyan writer describes the struggles for LGBT people in Africa:
Africa is going through an amazing time. Both turbulent, terrible but moving. Change is in the air, and I want to be inside those changes.
Wainaina also won the Caine Prize for African Writing. The chapter I am a homosexual, mum from his memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place, is garnering a great deal of attention. Wainaina talks about why he felt he had to come out and be visible:
It seemed to me at a time when there was escalating pressure on the ability of queer Africans to live freely, that it would be a kind of reductive hypocrisy for me to remain silent.
What a lovely and courageous soul our Wainaina is. I wonder how many of us would commit to being so out and visible in a continent that is so aggressively homophobic. Remember, there are laws in Uganda and Nigeria that make it legal to imprison and even kill LGBT people. Bravo, Binyavanga Wainaina. May your voice for social justice leave a legacy of peace and harmony for all of our LGBT family living in all parts of Africa.