Binyavanga Wainaina is the best-known Kenyan writer of his generation, one of Time‘s 100 most influential people, the founder of the influential literary magazine/publisher Kwani?—and a gay man in Africa, where draconian laws in Uganda and Nigeria (and rising anti-gay sentiment in other countries) have spurred the harrassment and persecution of LGBT people. Wainaina himself left for the U.S. in 2009, and he had every reason to leave Africa and never return. In fact, in his memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place, he even wrote that he loves Africa “from a committed distance.”
But after years working in North America, the 43-year-old didn’t merely return to live in Africa; in January, he bravely came out as gay, one of the most prominent Kenyan figures to do so. In this video, he tells Maclean’s about how hard he works to love Africa—comparing it to the life we enjoy in Canada—and why his love for his native continent remains unabated, despite it all.