Editor’s note: In June, Best Buy is proud to honor Pride Month and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. Read on for the story of one of our employees.
On Graham Lewis’ first day as a part-time sales associate at Best Buy, his only thought was, “What have I gotten myself into?”
“There was so much that I didn’t know,” he said. “I was so nervous and scared to talk to people at first.”
Graham’s start at Store 1258 in Davie, Florida, might have been overwhelming. But five years later and several roles into his career with Best Buy, Graham has grown in his confidence with fixing tech, working with customers and, ultimately, being himself.
Throughout Graham’s employment, he’s also undergone a significant personal journey – coming out as a transgender man.
“Joining Best Buy was a huge confidence booster for me,” Graham said. “If you told me back then I would’ve been able to do something of the things I’ve done, I’d be shocked.”
Discovering new skills, finding himself
Graham joined Best Buy “scared of his own shadow,” but quickly gained the support from his team that allowed him to become surer of himself. His manager discovered Graham’s passion for electronics and video games and put him in a position where he could talk about products he loved.
However, it was when he joined the Geek Squad a year later that Graham’s confidence really began to soar.
He learned how to take apart devices and put them back together, and how to fix computer software and malware issues. What’s more, Graham discovered the best way to connect with customers and his coworkers was to not act how he thought he should, but to just be himself.
He even helped run a local Geek Squad Academy, an educational event that teaches youth about technology, and train other Geek Squad new hires.
“Teaching others is one of Graham’s best skills,” said Hector Ruano, Graham’s former Geek Squad supervisor. “He is so patient and doesn’t mind going over the same material again and again until someone gets it.”
As Graham believed in himself more and more at work, his confidence also grew in his personal life. About five months ago, he decided to make the courageous decision to take the first steps in his transition to live authentically as a transgender man.
Graham first told his parents, who were fully supportive of his decision. Then, he began to tell his co-workers, asking that they now call him Graham and use he/him/his pronouns.
While he was a bit nervous to come out to his co-workers, he didn’t need to worry. They easily accepted Graham’s new identity and were happy for him.
“I feel very fortunate because I know that’s not the case for everybody,” he said.
While Graham waits for his name to be legally changed, he’s also grateful for the options at Best Buy to use his chosen name on company systems and his employee badge. It’s the little things like these that Graham said help him feel supported and affirmed in his identity.
“Since coming out, I can finally breathe and be myself,” he said. “To get through that and know people will still love and accept me and support me in my job makes such a big difference.”
Recently, he took on a new remote position in Arkansas assisting customers with their orders so he could move closer to family. He’s excited to begin this next chapter of his Best Buy career feeling fully himself at — and outside of — work.
“All of these new people I’ve met have never known me as anything but Graham,” he said. “It’s cool just to be myself and not have been anyone else.”