Pride Month: A Tale of a Gay African Man.
South Africa is the only African country where gay marriages are legalized, it also regarded as one the countries which is supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, a Rainbow nation indeed! Thus, it not surprising that it is a home to many great and notable Africans who are proudly gay. Among them are Somizi, one of the most popular TV personalities in South Africa (and some parts of Africa), Thulasiswe Dambudza, the social media sensation and the iconic Brenda Fassie.
Outside of the Rainbow nation, we have Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina, a Kenyan author, Journalist and Gay rights activist. As a young Homosexual man Growing up in a country where same sex relationships and homosexuality are illegal, Binyavanga was forced to question his sexuality at a very young age. In his essay “I am a Homosexual, Mom” he opens up about struggling with his identity and goes on further to confess to not being able to say out loud that he was gay until he was 39. In this emotionally gripping essay, he talks of an imagined conversation which he has with his mom on her dying bed. He explores his life as a gay African man in different timelines. He deliberately becomes vulnerable and lets us in on his life and childhood. He shows us the struggle with his feelings and the confusion that came with being an African Homosexual man. This great literary peace is an example of how relatable most of his work is not to only to homosexuals, but also to young people who are struggling with an identity of their own.
I am twenty nine. It is 11 July, 2000, I Binyavanga Wainaina, quite honestly swear I have known I am a Homosexual since I was five
One of his most popular work is a satirical essay, “How to write about Africa “Published in British Literary journal Granta in 2005.The title alone is strong enough to lure you into finding out what this genius has in store for you. He shows us his other side which portrays his unique, light and playful writing style. In this essay, he sarcastically attacks the clichéd habit and approach to news and stories of Africa by foreign journalists and tourists, Binyavanga, does this by presenting it merely as advice. He writes:
In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving
Binyavanga fully opens up the curtains and windows to his childhood and life through his memoir “One Day I Will Write about This Place” which was published in 2010. This memoir was a critical success both at home and abroad. He takes us though his childhood and talks about growing up in East Africa among other things, he does it a way that will convince you he is right next you, walking you through his experiences, feeling what he felt and seeing what he saw.
Among his noteworthy achievements, he won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002 for an African story “Discovering Home”. He was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people for his gay rights activism in 2014.He also founded Kwani,a literary magazine that offers a platform for new Kenyan Writers.
Binyavanga died after a short illness in 2019 at the age of 48. Even In death, he continues to inspire a future generation of African writers and young people.