Binyavanga Wainaina

An openly gay Kenyan writer and a closet-busting American basketball star have made the 2014 Time 100 Most Influential People in the World list.

Binyavanga Wainaina, acknowledged as one of Africa’s leading literary figures, was included among the globe’s most influential artists.

He made waves in January when, amidst a wave of growing homophobia on the continent, he revealed he is gay by publishing a semi-biographical piece titled I Am a Homosexual, Mum.

In the moving short story he imagined how he would have come out to his mother, who in reality passed away in 2000 without knowing that he is gay.

“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.


Jason Collins

In April last year, basketball star Jason Collins became the first active athlete in a top American professional team sport to come out as gay.

In an article for Sports Illustrated, he wrote: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA centre. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation,” he said.

Time magazine included him as one of its most influential pioneers on the 100 list.

“Jason’s kindness and fierceness alike derive from that word too often bandied about and too rarely true: integrity,” wrote Chelsea Clinton about Collins for his Time profile.

“Jason has always maintained he’s first a basketball player. He is. But he’s also a leader and an inspiration,” she added.

South Africa featured in the Time 100 list through Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who was described as “an inspirational example of what African public officers need to be.”

View the full Time 100 list here.

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