Council Estate to the Big City: LGBT Journalist Benjamin Butterworth’s Story

Surrounding himself with passion for the LGBT community, creative writing and cameras – Benjamin Butterworth overcame childhood struggles to become a successful journalist.

“It was hard at the time but I never, ever thought it was my fault. It was their fault.”

Ben knew during his childhood that he was “different”, 11/12 he realised he was gay. Like most gay youth in education and despite hiding the fact that he was gay for some years, Ben experienced bullying for being “camp” and then would come home to experience yet more abuse. 

“It was hard at the time but I never, ever thought it was my fault. It was their fault.”

At 25, the South London resident is a long way from where he was born – a council estate in Macclesfield. Successful and proud, Ben does not shy away from his childhood “My mum was a teenager, my dad was 10 years older than her and a drug dealer. Both were heroin addicts”. His early years were spent in a council estate in Manchester before moving in with his grandparents in Cheshire once his father was arrested.

Every life event that has happened to Ben has shaped the man he is today. No one can doubt the passion this man has for the LGBT community he is part of. Journalism has always been an integral part of his life; watching the Six O’ Clock news religiously as a child to having his first article published in the local paper during secondary school.

“It felt like the biggest deal in the world being in the paper; to put across my view to lots of people.”

With articles published in Pink News, The Guardian, OK Magazine and Gay Times magazine, Ben’s reach is far and wide. His proudest moments include getting full length interview with Tony Blair and Joan Rivers, adding that they “mean the world to me”. This year Ben even managed to speak to all five living British Prime Minsters for a feature piece, adding that such opportunities are a privilege and that he had to pinch himself to ensure he wasn’t dreaming . The access he has garnered as a journalist is really special but he still values it every single day.

Ben has since gone freelance, leaving behind full-time employment in order to focus on a wider variety of jobs. Citing that it has become increasingly common among journalists Ben commented that he’s “hopeful to pursue more TV and radio and having the freedom to write comment”.

When asked about if he has ever experienced homophobia in the workplace, Ben said that “the media has lots of gay people working in it, and journalists tend to be forward thinking types” but added that he had experienced homophobia in London.

“A guy once shouted anti gay slurs at me outside a nightclub. I called the police and had him arrested – it’s important to stand up to people on these things. They’re never, ever right”.

London is open for all. South London is full of culture and diversity. Benjamin Butterworth is an inspiration for the LGBT journalists of the future.