Be Your Best Self
Every year, during the month of June, the LGBT community celebrates in a number of different ways. Across the globe, various events are held during this special month as a way of recognising the influence LGBT people have had around the world.
This year, a lot of these events are cancelled or delayed until later in the year due to coronavirus. However, we still wanted to raise awareness and celebrate, and what better way to do this than to re-share this amazing story from Craig, Service Desk Analyst at our Support Centre.
When I joined the company in 2007 at my hometown Club in Ipswich, I was very openly gay. I wore makeup in my interview, so I knew right from the very beginning that the business is supportive and inclusive.
In the past, I had been turned down for jobs due to the way I am and how I looked. I knew this because I had asked for feedback, but that’s a story for another day! At Buzz, I wasn’t criticised or judged at all, and I was offered the job.
When I first started in my role, I thought that it was best to tone it down a little bit, with less make up so I’d look more manly. But then I got to know my Managers really well and realised I didn’t have to hide, I could be myself. So, I decided to start wearing makeup again at work, and oh my, did this help me open up completely.
From the Customers to my team, they all wanted to know my story and the real me. I had never felt like this before or felt so accepted. For the first time in my life, this is when I started to grow as a person, and this is when my drag was born!
I have always loved drag, I’ve been fascinated by it and always wanted to do it, so I started to play with drag at home … it was so much fun.
I kept saying to myself that I still haven’t shown the real me, but I really wanted to. I still remember to this day, 10 years on, when I was able to do this. It was on 9th September 2009, where we had an event at work, dressing up as emergency services characters. I couldn’t think of what to wear, but then it hit me… let’s introduce everyone to Phoenix.
That day really changed my life. I got to work and got changed, it was time to do the reveal. The support I received was amazing, for the first time ever I felt loved and that I had done something for myself.
I then moved to our Peterborough Club and thought that maybe my experience was down to the Club I was in. I was wrong. My Colleague Julia and the Manager Ashley knew me personally, so at the next event we had, I was able to do it all over again. The same feeling came rushing back and the love and support was amazing.
I then moved back to the Ipswich Club, where we held a Hollywood party night. I approached my Manager to ask if I could open the session in full drag, which they were fully on board with. I then took it one step further and suggested that I sing on the night … I needed to take that next big step.
I found my song and we blasted it over Social Media and shouted about it in Club. The turn out on the evening had me feeling so nervous. As it was getting closer to the performance, I knew there was no turning back. I got up on stage and the Presenter introduced me.
Then all of a sudden, I was singing. The Customers were listening, watching and even had their phone lights swaying as I finished the song. The hall went crazy and I just had to thank the crowd for their support. It was the first time I had ever performed in drag on stage.
After it was over, I went out the back and just cried my eyes out. I had finally found a place that accepted the real me.
Buzz Bingo is more than just a place to work, it’s a family of people that are stood with open arms ready to support you.
I have found Buzz to be such a big supporter of the LGBT+ community, with other Colleagues having gone through transformations from female to male and male to female. I have spoken to them and they’ve also shared their stories of how they received more support here than anywhere else.
Buzz Bingo really cares for all its people in every way possible and wants to see them grow. Still to this day, Phoenix Storm has her very own Buzz Bingo name badge … there really isn’t another place like Buzz!