African literary light Binyavanga Wainaina announced he is gay to protest against laws criminalising homosexuality on the continent.
The prize-winning Kenyan author marked his 43rd birthday with an online essay in which he wrote how he regretted not telling his mother that before she died.
His story contributes to an increasingly fierce debate about gays in Africa, where it is illegal to have homosexual sex in most countries.
Mr Wainaina said in an interview today that he came out to help preserve his dignity.
He lashed out at new legislation further criminalising homosexuality in Nigeria and Uganda.
He also criticised Russian president Vladimir Putin for Russia's stance on gays.
Gays in many parts of Africa face severe harassment, physical threats and judicial punishment. Kenya has a law banning sodomy.