As BBC Nws’s first ever LGBT Correspondent, Ben Hunte has quickly become one of the most visible and influential gay broadcasters in Britain – but being open about his identity as a reporter hasn’t always been so easy.
27-year-old Ben’s former role at the BBC was as presenter of What’s New?, the BBC’s first TV programme and digital service for children in Africa, and the London-born journalist has revealed he was initially asked to shut down his social media because of “concerns” over how his sexuality would be received by audiences.
As he opens up about his historic role in Attitude’s 25th anniversary issue – available to download and to order globally now – Ben explains how he previously felt like he was being “silenced” when it came to publicly disucssing being gay.
“I’m coming from BBC Africa where I was asked to shut down my social media because there were concerns about how African audiences were going to see me, being an out gay man,” he says.
“I was asked to, but I didn’t. I have had to almost look at how I can align my social media now with this new role, and what is essentially a new life away from children’s TV because I couldn’t do anything for BBC Africa.”
He goes on: “It was an incredible programme and it was such an incredible role to have but it was difficult because it felt like being silenced.
“I understand why that was because obviously there are people living within those countries and you don’t want to put them at risk.
“You don’t want the show to be taken off the air. It has been a challenge.”
Ben, who began his first officially duties as LGBT Correspondent last month, adds that he values his new position as an onscreen role model.
“That as an example says there is a story there about being a black presenter facing an African continent, a show that was broadcast in nine countries where being gay is illegal,” he says.
“But here I am receiving messages every day from young people saying things like ‘Wow, it’s so nice to feel represented on screen’.”
Read Ben’s full interview in Attitude’s 25th anniversary issue, out now.