EXCLUSIVE: Brihony Dawson reveals they once “got walked out” of a job because of their sexuality

“They said, ‘We don’t want people like you here'."
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Brihony Dawson is one happy human. With a successful career as a vocalist and keynote speaker, and now host of the new show The Challenge, the 38-year-old’s resume is quickly expanding. 

It hasn’t been an easy journey for Dawson, but heading into 2023, the emcee is content.

Watch Below: Konrad Bien and Megan Marx get together while filming The Challenge

The star, who is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them, says as their life progressed, they felt less and less connected to the term ‘lady’ when addressed, so began a journey into understanding themselves and who they are. 

Dawson said in the beginning, the journey of self-discovery with their gender identity was a struggle because they also saw themselves as a “staunch feminist”.

“I thought what does that mean for me to be a feminist if I’m not a woman? I was still bound by all these binary things,” they explained to WHO.

Brihony Dawson
“It’s important to create a safe space for people to learn,” Dawson said to WHO of educating about gender identity (Credit: Instagram)

The battle continued in their mind with not wanting to be a man, but still not feeling as though they identified as a woman. 

It wasn’t until Dawson had a relationship with a woman who had non-binary friends that they had the epiphany.

“She said, ‘You’re non-binary,’” Dawson tells. “I was like yeah! And she said, ‘Thank God, I’ve been waiting forever for you to tell me!’ It’s so crazy to come to that realisation.” 

They say that gay love has come a long way, but in terms of gender, people are still confused. 

“The way I explain it to people is just as firmly that you believe you are a man or woman, I believe that I am neither of those things,” they explain. “That I am just a human.”

The team at The Challenge Australia had the correct pronouns for host Dawson, with ‘they’ and ‘them’ written out and left on a desk on set for all to be conscious of at all times, which they say was hugely appreciated – but the celebrity acknowledges some people are going to get it wrong as we navigate gender. 

The Challenge
Brihony Dawson is currently hosting The Challenge. (Credit: Ten)

Taking time to explain the new terminology to others “takes patience” and Melbourne-based Dawson says it’s all a “learning process”. 

The host is passionate about educating people on the subject because “it will not only benefit them, but other people in the queer community”.

“I’m pretty strong and happy with where I’m at in terms of my identity and expression now, but it doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s confusing at the start to realise maybe I don’t fit into that male and female thing,” says Dawson. 

“I think it’s hard for people to understand sometimes that if you don’t want to be a woman, then you must want to be a man and you’re like, ‘No, I’m just a little human over here.’ You can tell when people have good intention though. Humans are inquisitive creatures. They want to know. So, you have to think to yourself, ‘Well, that’s great that they want to know!’”

Brihony Dawson
“It’s taken me a long time to get here” (Credit: Getty)

Unfortunately, there have been some shocking moments for Dawson throughout their personal evolution. There was one time while working in the fitness industry 16 years ago when Dawson was fired for being gay. At the time they identified as a woman.

“They said, ‘We don’t want people like you here,’” Dawson told WHO. “I got walked out. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what to do with the information because I was so shocked.” 

Dawson said that once the initial outrage had settled, they contacted the “fair work people” who frustratingly told them, “There’s literally nothing we can do.”

“In that day and age, gays were everywhere, especially in the fitness industry,” Dawson said. “It’s such a gay-friendly, queer-friendly space, so it was definitely a shock to the system.”

Dawson wishes they could tell their younger self, “You’re gonna be OK.” To anyone who may be struggling with their sexuality or gender identity, Dawson says, “Find your community, as they will be the best support for you.” They add that anyone can “reach out to me”.

The Challenge Australia airs Mondays, 8.30pm on Network 10.

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