Words: Will Stroude
When Ben Hunte was announced as BBC News' first ever LGBT Correspondent in December, the news marked a watershed moment for the LGBTQ community in the UK.
As 'debates' about LGBTQ acceptance lessons in schools and transgender people's right to simply exist continue to take up column inches and breakfast TV slots, the creation of role dedicated to covering issues that affect the community seemingly presented the perfect opportunity to have our voices heard in mainstream news media.
But for broadcaster Ben, who left his position at BBC Africa to begin his new reporting duties in earnest last month, the role of LGBT Correspondent isn't just about showcasing the diversity of our community, but changing the hearts and minds of straight, cisgender viewers at home.
As he poses for his first shoot and interview since taking up the position in Attitude's 25th anniversary issue - available to download and to order globally now - the London-based journalist explains: "People are now so woke that they are almost offended when people ask them questions.
"I think this is especially the case in the LGBTQ community because we spend so much time now being so proud of ourselves, and rightly so. But there is an opportunity for learning."
The 27-year-old goes on: "When you speak to some of these people, maybe LGBTQ media isn’t on their agenda, LGBTQ voices aren’t on their agenda, not because they are excluding them, but they are just not where they commonly consume the news.
"I want to try to educate some of these people because if you look at, say, the idea of being cisgender, I don’t think many people really understand that term. It’s something that we as a community have taken on.
"I still remember the day I had to Google it because I was hearing people on podcasts talking about it. I thought, “What is cisgender and what does that even mean?
Ben Hunte, shot by Francisco Gomez de Villaboa exclusively for Attitude's 25th anniversary issue
"Now, a few years later, we can’t leave people behind where we are talking in one language and they are talking in another, and they are almost afraid of asking us questions."
Ben, who also opens up about his tough adolescence after he was outed at school at school and experiences of racism as a black gay man, adds: "There is an opportunity for us to step back and define things. Then once we have defined things, if people are still ignorant then that’s on them.
"That’s when we can say, 'Look, we have put it out there. The information is there and you just ignored it'."
Read Ben's full interview in Attitude's 25th anniversary issue, which comes with two other specual covers featuring Colton Hanyes and Mashrou' Leila frontman Hamed Sinno.