Benjamin Burns

I came out at 15. My experiences have been shaped by privilege and made easier by people who fought when things were harder. I was lucky to be mentored by a member of the Gay Liberation Front. I’m also queer, which is an umbrella term for a community which is about liberation from normativity, assumed binaries and privilege. My queerness shapes my identity and experiences more than my sexuality – “gay culture” can conform to rigid norms just like “straight culture”.

Gender non-conformity is a vital and visible part of my queerness. People often assume or wonder if I’m trans non-binary. I’ve explored whether I am, but my gender identity aligns with the sex I was assigned at birth so I’m comfortable when I present and am perceived as such. Gender non-conforming fits (as do “androgynous” and “gender variant”) because, at its most simple, it’s about gender expression rather than gender identity. I use he/they pronouns for allyship and because I’m comfortable with either.

I haven’t faced overt discrimination at work, but the legal profession can be conservative. My professional life is worlds apart from my private life, so the main challenge I face is deciding the extent to which I can assimilate without compromising my identity.