Kenya: Acclaimed gay Kenyan author and activist Binyavanga Wainaina dies

Kenya’s LGBTQ community is in mourning after one of its most acclaimed sons, influential and award-winning author Binyavanga Wainaina, died at the age of 48.

It’s understood that Wainaina, who was one of the most high profile Kenyans to be openly gay, passed away on Tuesday at a Nairobi hospital after a short illness.

In May 2018, Wainaina announced that he planned to marry his partner in South Africa this year. “Nothing has surprised me more than coming to love this person, who is gentle and has the most gorgeous heart,” he said at the time.

Among the continent’s leading literary figures, Wainaina came out as gay through a semi-biographical short piece, titled I Am a Homosexual, Mum, in January 2014.

In April of that year, he was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and was included among the globe’s leading artists.

“By publicly and courageously declaring that he is a gay African, Binyavanga has demystified and humanised homosexuality and begun a necessary conversation that can no longer be about the ‘faceless other,’” wrote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Time.

In 2016, Wainaina also revealed that he was living with HIV on Twitter on 1 December, World Aids Day, writing: “I am HIV Positive, and happy.” Read more via Mamba

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Conversations with Baba BINYAVANGA WAINAINA is a Kenyan author, publisher and cultural worker. For over eleven years Binyavanga has sought, worked with, published, mentored and promoted some of Africa's most exciting new literary talent.