In response to Nigeria and Uganda passing draconian anti-gay laws, Kenyan literary luminary Binyavanga Wainaina has come out. The Guardian reports that in “I Am a Homosexual, Mum,” a short story published this weekend to coincide with Wainaina’s 43rd birthday, the much-lauded African author publicly announces his sexuality.
Calling the story “the lost chapter” from his 2011 memior, the self-described pan-Africanist said the timing of his coming out was far from accidental. The persecution of gays and lesbians in Nigeria after the passing of the country’s new anti-law—which outlaws gay-sex with a 14-year jail term—has made the news worldwide. Despite the fact that homosexuality bans are now on the books in 54 African countries, Wainaina tells The Guardian that he his bullish about gay rights. "There will be setbacks but the reaction wouldn't be as extreme if the movement had no traction. This is not a fatalistic battle – it's part of the things that happen when a continent is coming up." Perhaps he is right to be so optimistic; Uganda’s president has vetoed a law that called for a life-sentence for those convicted of homosexuality.
“I Am a Homosexual, Mum” is a reimagining of the last days of Wainaina’s mother’s life. In it, Binyavanga comes out to his mother at her deathbed. To clear up any confusion arising from the fact that the story uses both real and imagined memories, Wainaina went to Twitter to confirm that he is in fact gay.