People

Albert Nabonibo’s biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

IntroRwandan gospel singer
Is Singer
From Rwanda
Type Music
Gendermale

Albert Nabonibo (born 1983/1984 (age 35–36) in the Gicumbi District) is a “well-known” gospel singer and accountant from Kacyiru in the suburbs of Kigali, Rwanda. Thomson Reuters Foundation News describes Nabonibo as well-known and popular singer, and reports he has released eight gospel songs since 2012. In August 2019, he came to international attention when he came out as gay, which is held in tension with “Africa’s conservative, anti-gay views in regards to homosexuality.” Additionally the churches in the mostly-Christian country purport that being LGBTQ is sinful. In coming out he became Rwanda’s first openly gay gospel singer. PinkNews named him as the eighth “most impactful and moving coming out story” of 2019, noting “the negative reactions he would inevitably face”.

Biography

Albert Nabonibo was born 1983/1984 in the Gicumbi District, one of five districts in Northern Province, Rwanda. He felt he was like a “clumsy and shy child” at high school in 1995. He has also been sexually active with other boys and men since 1995.

Nabonibo has been active in the African Pentecostalism churches including as a member of the church choir. He has had some success since 2014, including ”Umenipenda” and ”Sogongera.” Up to August 2019 he has had to keep his sexuality a secret and live a double-life. As he suspected, Nabonibo has faced backlash from work, family, and harassment at church leading him to withdraw from all three.

The continent has some of the world’s toughest laws against homosexuality, and LGBTQ people; gay sex is a crime in most countries, with penalties from prison time to death.

Rwandan attitudes to LGBTQ

MamboOnline noted “while homosexuality is legal in Rwanda, it remains a taboo in the country,” although in July 2019 it joined a handful of African countries to vote for a “mandate of the UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination” for LGBTQ people. Nabonibo came out so he could “live normally and without pretense.” Gay Times stated, “there are no laws in place to protect LGBTQ residents from anti-hate speech or discrimination in the workplace. Same-sex marriage isn’t recognized.” In Rwanda the “penal code does not explicitly restrict sex between people of the same gender, but same-sex marriage is banned,” as such “many LGBTQ+ people live their lives in secret to avoid societal scorn and judgment.” Since being open about his sexuality, Nabonibo has been shunned by family and friends, and fears he may lose his accountant job “because being openly LGBTQ+ is extremely taboo.” Rwandan human rights activist William Ntwali notes, “If you are gay, members of your community ostracize you.” The Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that these anti-gay stigmas often come from colonial-era laws in Africa (1870s-1900). In the pre-colonial Kingdom of Rwanda “homosexuality was common among male Hutus and Tutsis.” According to HRW, as of September 2019, thirty-two African nations have anti-gay laws “left over from the colonial era.” A leading Ugandan LGBTQ advocate, Frank Mugisha, characterized the backlash as a waste of energy, “If someone decides to love any one differently, how does it hurt you?” Both President Paul Kagame and Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini have made homophobic statements. Nabonibo did get support from Foreign Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe who wrote “All Rwandans are born and remain equal in rights and freedoms. Discrimination of any kind or its propaganda… are prohibited and punishable by law,” which comes from article 16 of Rwanda’s Constitution.

Gospel music and LGBTQ attitudes

In Anthony Heilbut 1971’s “The Gospel Sound,” a history of gospel, he writes of the open secret, “Since gospel is theatrical, and theater is the paradigm for much of gay life, gospel has a special allure for gays.” According to Out they live in glass closets. Nabonibo says there are many closeted Christians afraid to come out “due to possible discrimination and fear for their lives.” There is a history of black churches and evangelical sects shunning LGBTQ people of faith. Lonnie Frisbee was the gay closeted hippie preacher from the 1960s-1980s, the film Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher explains how Frisbee became the charismatic spark igniting the rise of Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard Movement, two worldwide denominations and among the largest evangelical denominations to emerge in the last thirty years, ‘power evangelism’ comes from Frisbee’s ministry. When his sexuality was an open secret in his churches that he built, he was demoted, shunned, then fired, and “written out of the official histories.” In his 2001 memoir, “Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor,” gospel singer Donnie McClurkin shares of being raped by male church members when he was a boy causing him to be gay, then being an ex-gay due to his faith In 2010, Tonéx, who has recorded several hundred songs, truthfully answered questions thus outing himself; the gospel community disavowed the highly accomplished singer and preacher, he then recreated himself as an out indie R&B/glam pop artist, B.Slade. In Bishop Yvette Flunder view “gospel music is gay music, with vanishingly few exceptions.”