Albert Nabonibo, a well-known gospel singer in Rwanda has recently came out as a gay man,  the news has shocked a lot.

The singer shocked many Rwandans in August when he revealed in an interview with a Christian YouTube channel that he is gay in a country where such a public assertion of homosexuality is unheard of.

Friends of Nabonino who do not want their names revealed. It is too shameful, one says. Another says he is anguished because his family knows he often used to socialize with Nabonibo.

Nabonibo told The Associated Press that he came out in order to live normally. Yet the reaction he has received, from family and friends to strangers, has been mostly “horrible,” underscoring the intolerance faced by LGBT people in many parts of Africa.

“But there is no going back, because I have to live my real life,” Nabonibo said in an interview in the capital, Kigali. “It’s so sad to see people you know abusing you.”

Nabonibo, who is 35 and also a qualified accountant, said he had become an outcast at his workplace as friends isolate him. He is worried he could lose his job. Even at home, news of his homosexuality shocked many relatives, although some have been acting tolerant, he said.

Although Rwanda’s penal code does not explicitly proscribe gay sex, same-sex marriage is banned. This means that many homosexuals are forced to live underground lifestyles in order to avoid the harsh judgment of society. Nabonibo said he was compelled to come out because he could no longer “live in denial.”

“There is a long list of them (gays) in your midst and they include pastors or churchgoers,” he said. “This pretense encouraged me to speak out.”

William Ntwali, a Rwandan human rights activist, said society in the country still stigmatizes gay people even when they are safe under the law.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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