Name: S Chelvan
Organisation: No5 Barristers’ Chambers
How does your identity relate to your work?
I’m black, gay, a first-generation immigrant and living with disability – I’ve always identified and celebrated my 'difference' at the core of a positive identity. I became a barrister to empower myself, empower my community and to own the narrative.
I work primarily in representing LGBT+ refugees. My identity enables me to ensure my clients inhabit a safe space and I act in a manner “to provide a mouthpiece for those who know the words, but have no voice”.
What does intersectionality mean to you?
My various identities accumulate into my single identity – a human being. Intersectionality underpins our ability to start the discussion, by drawing on our various experiences as marginalised communities.
Do you feel comfortable being out at work?
I’m very comfortable in my own skin both in and outside of work – I do not hide who I am. Visibility is the strongest weapon to combat ignorance and hatred. It helps provide a work environment where we are not merely tolerated but celebrated. Be visible – you can only excel in your career if you are comfortable in your own skin – the rest will follow.
As an LGBT person, what’s it like working in your sector?
The main issue is working as a black LGBT+ person where there exists in the NGO sector a noticeable influence of white privilege – this is a battle yet to overcome.