Activist. Journalist. Survivor.
One man’s journey from prejudice to Pride.
Paul Burston wasn’t always the iconic voice of LGBTQ+ London that he is today. Paul came out in the mid-1980s, when ‘gay’ still felt like a dirty word, especially in the small Welsh town where he grew up. He moved to London hoping for a happier life, only to watch in horror as his new-found community was decimated by AIDS.
But even in the depths of his grief, Paul vowed never to stop fighting back on behalf of his young friends whose lives were cut tragically short. It’s a promise he’s kept to this day. As an activist he stormed the House of Commons during the debate over the age of consent.
As a journalist he spoke up for the rights of the community at a time of tabloid homophobia and legal inequality. As a novelist he founded the groundbreaking Polari Prize. But his lifestyle hid a dark secret, and Paul’s demons-shame, trauma, grief-stalked him on every corner.
In an attempt to silence them, he began to self-medicate. From almost drowning at eighteen to a near-fatal overdose at thirty-eight, this is Paul’s story of what happened in the twenty years between, and how he carved out a life that his teenage self could scarcely have imagined.