Ben Nielsen was a Pinnacle Scholar between 2013-2015, and is currently an ABC News reporter, based at ABC Goulburn Murray in Wodonga.
Ben grew up in a small country town south of Adelaide. “I was a quiet, bookish kid who studied music. I wasn’t necessarily an outcast, but I was definitely different from my brothers and the other kids in the community, which was consumed by sport, agriculture and mining” he said.
“My environment – particularly at primary school – shaped my understanding of masculinity. Sensitive boys were bullied as it was thought they should be rough-and-tumble types.
“Ironically I was bullied by the only openly gay boy at high school. He pressured me to come out and to act in a certain way – which he thought was the “right” way to be gay.”
Ben studied Music at the University of Adelaide, and then subsequently his Masters in Arts (Journalism) in Sydney at UTS.
“It wasn’t until I moved to Adelaide, and later to Sydney, that I immersed myself in the queer community. Pinnacle provided an entry point … and soon I was exposed to healthier and more authentic representations of gender and identity.
“Over three years, the foundation provided me with financial assistance to complete my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. I also had two mentors, who offered friendship and guidance.