Raised in Bridgend, Wales, Burston attended Brynteg Comprehensive School, studied English, Drama and Film Studies at university before becoming an activist with the gay London policing project GALOP and the AIDS activist group ACT-UP. He later became a journalist, first for the gay press and then for the mainstream media. He presently edits the gay and lesbian section of Time Out magazine, and in 2008 received a Stonewall Award for the magazine's coverage of gay issues. He also writes on a wide variety of subjects for newspapers including The Independent on Sunday, The Times, The Financial Times and The Guardian.
His first book was A Queer Romance (which he co-edited). This was followed by What Are You Looking At?, Gutterheart - Life According To Marc Almond and Queens' Country: A Tour Around the Gay Ghettos, Queer Spots and Camp Sights of Britain.
Burston published his first novel Shameless in 2001. It was shortlisted for a State of Britain Award and became a bestseller. It was also published in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary and America, where it received a glowing review from the New York Times Review of Books.
Shameless was reprinted in the UK in 2009.
In 2006 he published a second novel Star People (reprinted in 2009 and again in 2010), and in April 2007, a third Lovers & Losers (reprinted twice in 2009). Lovers & Losers spawned its own club night, A Club For Lovers & Losers, and led to the author becoming a DJ on the alternative London gay scene.
In 2008 the fictional song at the heart of the story was recorded by south London electro outfit Furiku, with Burston on backing vocals.
In September 2007 Lovers & Losers earned Burston a Stonewall Award nomination for Best Writer alongside Russell T Davies and Val McDermid.
In August 2010, he made the Independent on Sunday Pink List of the most influential gay people in Britain for the fourth year running.
Burston is also a programmer at the Southbank Centre and runs Polari, "London's peerless gay literary salon" (Independent on Sunday).
In addition he has appeared at the National Portrait Gallery, The London Literature Festival, The Museum of London, King's College Cambridge, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, on The One Show and Newsnight and at the Bridgend Conservative Club.
Paul Burston lives in south London with his civil partner and in April 2009 was pictured "naked" on the cover of Boyz magazine in homage to Joe Orton, with the headline "The Gay Novelist of Now".
His latest novel The Gay Divorcee was first published on 7 May 2009 by Sphere and reprinted a month later. It also topped the Amazon Gay Fiction Bestseller List, making it his fastest selling book to date.
The mass market edition was published on 4 March 2010 and quickly topped the Amazon gay bestseller list once more. It was reprinted within three weeks.
The book will be published in Poland in 2010.
In March 2010 he published a short story,"The Gift", in the collection called Bloody Vampires from Glasshouse Books. The story dealt with HIV and barebacking.
In July 2010, a collection Burston edited, Boys & Girls, was published by the same publisher. The book included his humorous short story, "The Unbearable Bear".
Paul Burston is also a resident DJ at London's mixed alt-fetish night 'Festival of Sins'.
"Accomplished entertainment...a rollicking, steamy, witty saga steeped in love, sex and no small amount of cocaine... Social politics underscore the delicious froth: quite besides the plight of poor Phil, the maelstrom of modern gay life (from drugs to online sex, vanity to homophobia) is concisely deconstructed by Burston." - The Times
"Burston expertly handles entwined storylines and evokes the energy and anxiety of gay London nightlife. This incisive writer mostly reserves a light, tender touch ... Moving and witty ... The Gay Divorcee is a diverting read to settle down with." - Metro
"Gay London's Jane Austen... a fearless chronicler of modern gay life in all its glory and grotesqueness ... up-to-the-minute, unashamedly commercial and absolutely in-yer-face..." - The Independent on Sunday
"Immensely enjoyably" - Julian Clary
"A great read. So much so, I read it in one day" - Lorraine Kelly
"I absolutely loved it. Paul Burston is the nearest thing the UK has to Armistead Maupin. They share a warmth for their characters, have that same page turning quality, a nice light comic touch and deft plotting. I think he gets better and better." - Jonathan Harvey
"F**king fabulous" - Paul O'Grady
"Wonderful, wicked and witty, laugh-out-loud funny and touching observation of Soho gay life. Burston’s best yet. Loved it!" - Marc Almond
"I found myself saddened and then gladdened by this novel that has the lightest of touches and the deepest of meanings. Burston can go from waspish to wise and back in a sentence. Here is a story about how whether male, female, straight or gay we can often find love in the queerest of places. Bitchy, funny, acute and moving. A triumph." - Suzanne Moore
"A fascinating portrait of Soho in the noughties: vivid, charming and romantic." - Susie Boyt
"Call me old-fashioned, but there was a time when this title meant Ginger Rogers doing The Continental. Paul Burston has written a very funny comedy of manners on a much more old fashioned subject." - Christopher Fowler