Target: Binyavanga Wainaina
Goal: Support African writer Binyavanga Wainaina in the midst of anti-gay laws in Africa
Binyavanga Wainaina is one of Africa’s leading literary figures. A Kenyan author, he recently published a short story where he announced he was homosexual and that he would continue to travel to Nigeria. Wainaina will no doubt face legal punishment when he returns, as Nigeria has been arresting gays and lesbians all over the country. Any evidence found to suggest that the victim has participated in same sex activity could land the victim in prison for fourteen years with a heavy fine.
Wainaina published the short story on the weekend of his 43rd birthday titled, “I Am A Homosexual Mum.” The story discusses real and imagined memories of his lifetime and flickers back and forth between ages until Wainaina is at his mother’s deathbed, revealing to her his homosexuality. Wainaina has received widespread support from Africa, but will not be interviewed about the short story or his homosexuality until the documentary detailing his life is online. The author hopes that the documentary will shed light not on just his life, but on homosexuality as well.
The move to publish his story when Nigeria is facing a wave of anti-gay related arrests is not a coincidence. Uganda also tried to pass a law that grants life sentences to those found to be gay or lesbian, but was vetoed by the president. Wainaina realizes that he has artistic freedom because of where he lives; a friend of his who was also gay but living in western Kenya was not so lucky. Upon his friend’s death, his family was thrown from the church for trying to hold a memorial.
Despite the wave of arrests, the prejudice, and the bullying, Wainaina has remained optimistic 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.”
Support this brave writer by signing this petition. If people show enough love and support, we can make change happen in Nigeria and change the nation’s laws and attitudes towards the gay and lesbian community.
Dear Binyavanga Wainaina,
I would like to applaud you for your bravery in revealing to the public that you are a homosexual. I realize that Nigeria and Uganda have strict anti-gay laws and the atmosphere towards the gay and lesbian community is not friendly or pleasant. All countries need pioneers for every right, and you are the pioneer for gay rights.
I am writing this letter to give you my support and love, and hope that you will continue to strive towards gay rights for Nigeria. I hope that when you do return to Nigeria, you return safely and without complications with the law. I also ask that you continue fighting for gay rights everywhere, as many others have done before.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia