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Rwandan Gospel Singer Comes Out, Shocks Country

YouTube screenshot

Albert Nabonibo faces extreme homophobia in his homeland, reports the Associated Press.

A gospel singer in Rwanda came out, despite living in a country where LGBTQ individuals face severe homophobia.

Albert Nabonibo came out in a YouTube interview and has since faced significant backlash within his church and network of friends, reports the Associated Press.

"But there is no going back, because I have to live my real life," Nabonibo told the AP. "It's so sad to see people you know abusing you."

The 35-year-old also works as an accountant and fears retribution at work. Government officials, though, have stressed Nabonibo and all openly gay and lesbian Rwandans enjoy portections of the law, unlike in many other Central African nations.

"All Rwandans are born and remain equal in rights and freedoms," said Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda's state minister for foreign affairs, in a message on Twitter.

Rwandan activist William Ntwali said that society in the nation remains homophobic. "People think you are not normal, and they look at it as an abomination," he said.

That fact seemed clearly illustrated by quotes to the AP from friends now actively distancing themselves from the gospel singer, some openly calling him "horrible" and "crazy."

But Nabonibo said that shows the importance of greater visibility of LGBTQ people within Rwanda.

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

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