Most of the year, you’ll find Dave Beks happily working as a Business Systems Manager for ANZ, where he manages various projects in the Retail Systems Management area.
But over a few glorious weeks in February and March each year, Dave transforms into his alter-ego Anzabella, a drag queen (named by Dave’s Nanna) who struts her stuff at Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade and at a range of related ANZ events.
“I’m not the most feminine-looking guy around, it takes a lot of effort to make me look this fabulous,” he says.
There’s the shopping and fitting, the dresses, the heels, the make-up, the wigs and the waxing, it’s all part of the time-consuming transformation. Dave credits make-up artist Lauren Harrison from LHP Makeup for much of the magic.
“We’re working to make ANZ as inclusive as it can possibly be"
“I’ve been marching in the ANZ Pride parade since 2008 and I was thinking about doing it in drag. When ANZ set up their first Instagram video, launching the GAYTMs in 2014, I decided to make the leap,” he says.
For the record – Dave’s never done drag before, except for a friend’s cross-dressing themed 21st. As he points out, it was quite a different prospect to don a wig, frock and heels in his workplace.
Dave also heads up the Transgender and Intersex working group at ANZ, part of the ANZ Pride Network for LGBTI employees and straight allies.
The working group is tasked with examining all of ANZs staff and customer policies and processes from a transgender and intersex perspective.
“We’re working to make ANZ as inclusive as it can possibly be,” says Dave.
Dave has been with ANZ for many years, starting out as a teller and working his way through various roles to his current position. “My sexuality has never been an issue in any role I’ve had at ANZ,” he says.
Dave makes the point that this might seem like no big deal – but it actually is really important.
“I don't need to spend energy trying to hide who I am from the people I work with. I can share what I did on the weekends and who I did it with, bringing all aspects of my out-of-work life to work without being fearful of what people say or think about me. That freedom has made a real difference to me, and to what I do in my career.”
While transforming into the exuberant Anzabella is fun, it also takes Dave way outside his comfort zone – and he sees that as an essential part of breaking down some pretty big social barriers.
“Part of what draws me towards becoming Anzabella, is knowing that a lot of people don't feel like they can bring their whole selves to work,” he explains.
“If I can walk around work in a dress, and if ANZ is comfortable with allowing a dude in high heels to walk around the workplace, well maybe others will find that inspirational!”
Contributing Writer: Fran Molloy
Photography: Vikk Shayen and courtesy of Dave Beks