Mohsin Zaidi is a criminal barrister at one of the top chambers in the country and represents clients in a number of high-profile cases. He has previously worked at a UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague and at the UK’s Supreme Court. Mohsin is an advocate for LGBT rights, BAME representation and social mobility.
He is on the board of Stonewall, the UK’s biggest LGBT rights charity and is a governor of his former secondary school. Mohsin appears as a commentator on Sky News and has previously written for CNN Style, Bustle, Mr Porter and Newsweek. The Financial Times listed him as a top future LGBT leader, The Lawyer Magazine included him on their Hot 100 list, and Attitude magazine has named him a trailblazer changing the world today.
A Dutiful Boy is a coming of age memoir (published by Penguin) about Mohsin Zaidi, a Muslim boy growing up in a poor part of London in a strict religious household who has to come to terms with the fact that he is gay. He becomes the first person from his school to go to Oxford University, where he is confronted with the broken parts of his identity and seeks a way to reconcile seeming irreconcilable worlds. He then goes on to become a criminal barrister.
In young adulthood, Mohsin Zaidi fights for a place in his family and ultimately finds it. At its heart, the story is one of family love, with parents overcoming the religious and cultural barriers that stand between them and their son. As well as faith, sexuality and mental health, the book addresses issues of race and class in a subtle but sophisticated manner.
It has been described by The Guardian as ‘a profound meditation on the power of the human heart to transcend the contradictions of diverse cultures and create something new…utterly compelling…providing a lesson of acceptance for us all, and for the future of our multicultural society’. The Times says it is a book that will save lives. Mohsin was recently on Elizabeth Day’s ‘How to Fail’ podcast and she has said the book is ‘deeply moving and profoundly important’.
Mohsin addresses the stigma around mental health within ethnic minority communities and draws a parallel between it and a cultural stigma around discussing mental wellbeing in the workplace. Through very personal and at times harrowing tales, Mohsin articulates the case for honesty in personal identity within yourself but also at work and amongst colleagues.
The single most pressing issue of diversity facing society and businesses is the one to which we give the least attention. While measures of equity on race/gender/sexuality move in the right direction, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. Through personal experience of growing up in a council house and going to a school ridden with gang violence (a school from which he became the person to go to Oxford University), Mohsin addresses the issue of class bias and discusses what we can do about it.
None of us are just one thing and Mohsin is the personification of an intersectional life. On race, Mohsin has the facts and figures to back up the experiences of ethnic minorities we so often hear about in the news. On class, he speaks candidly about the difference between the world he came from and the world he now lives in. On sexuality, he describes the struggle to accept yourself in the face of cultural stigma. But the strength in his experience lies in the intersectional tale it tells.
Through eye opening stories in a professional and personal context, Mohsin explains how diverse representation in key roles doesn’t just demonstrate a commitment to being an inclusive organisation but adds value to it.
Q&A around the critically acclaimed memoir ‘A Dutiful Boy’, drawing on all the strands Mohsin writes and speaks on.
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