Binyavanga: I waited for my parents' death to reveal my sexuality

By Bosco Marita | Thursday, May 23rd 2019 at 14:59
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When the late Kenyan writer and LGBT activist Binyavanga Wainaina announced, early 2014, that he was a homosexual, he became the centre of debate all over the world. 

Being a Kenyan, where homosexuality is seldom discussed openly, the writer was definitely poised for massive controversy.

LGBT activists have struggled to fight for the recognition of their identity and freedom in Kenya. The government has remained adamant on the matter, maintaining that it is illegal and unacceptable.

Such is the hardship LGBTs face that even Binyavanga said, during an interview on the BBC’s Hardtalk, that he found it hard to reveal his sexual identity when his parents were alive.

When asked by BBC’s Stephen Sackur why he had let his parents know of his sexual orientation Binyavanga replied: “Because I couldn’t put it in the future tense. I didn’t trust their love for me. Because I didn’t test it out, because each time they had to die before I would say I ask them.”

During that interview, Binyavanga said that his parents never gave him the slightest implications of sexuality but his mother suspected him though he never confided to her. For his father, he was certain he was in the dark.

In an article he published in 2014, titled I am a Homosexual, he reveals on how he informed his dead mother of her sexual orientation.

"Never, mum. I did not trust you, mum. And. I. Pulled air hard and balled it down into my navel, and let it out slow and firm, clean and without bumps out of my mouth, loud and clear over a shoulder, into her ear. “I am a homosexual, mum."

Wainaina was the director of the Chinua Achebe Centre for African Writers and Artists at Bard College in Hamlet, New York, United States.

The 2002 Caine Literary prize winner died in Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi, on Tuesday night after a stroke.

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