‘It’s amazing how one performance can change your life’


Working at Lighthouse isn't always just about the job as Stage Door Receptionist SUKIE BAKER, who's also a writer/performer/creator, explains...

Many years ago I attended a performance of Bullish in the Sherling Studio. It was the first time I’d seen a play explicitly centring trans characters, and specifically about trans mythology. It was a piece examining the journey of a young trans man through the lens of Asterion the Minotaur.

At the time I had no idea how to combine my love of mythology, performance, transness and queerness into a cohesive form of storytelling, and that Lighthouse visit irrevocably changed my creative pathway. Since then, my writing and performance work have consistently been openly and deeply grounded in transness, legend, folktale and myth.

It’s amazing how one performance can change your life.

When I first started working Stage Door at Lighthouse, I had all the usual nerves of starting in a new job – will I get on with my co-workers? Will I enjoy the work? What if it isn’t the workplace I hope it will be? – plus a lot of the very familiar ones to all queer folks, particularly trans folks in the current climate – should I be ‘out’ at work? Will it be safe to be openly trans here? How many difficult conversations and confrontations am I willing to deal with in order to be openly myself?

Despite often going ‘stealth’ in previous workplaces, I decided to describe myself as non-binary and give my pronouns as they/them in all my application details because I hoped that Bullish being shown here was a good sign.

And it was. Right from my first shadow shift, I was surprised when both my manager and immediate co-workers thought to ask my pronouns and then immediately proceeded to get them right almost every time. It’s a rare thing when meeting new people, particularly in a workplace, and while it seems small, it indicates a much broader attitude of acceptance and understanding. It’s a bit like the proverbial canary in a coalmine. Apart from anything else, it shows people are willing to ask who you are rather than judge you based on their first impression, which I think is something everyone can appreciate.

I’ve now been here for over a year and at no time have I been made to feel alien, unwelcome or incomprehensible, let alone unsafe. Working at Lighthouse has become a haven of sorts, and in my time here I have met many other queer and trans creatives, whether working for Lighthouse, the BSO, or visiting companies; I’ve made firm friends who have worked with me to facilitate workshops, run events and even perform and tech for a cabaret fundraiser for my top surgery a few months ago.

I have been so supported and encouraged in both my creative work and my transition over the last year, and I can’t imagine having grown so much anywhere else.

Lighthouse has been incredibly supportive throughout my transition thus far, whether that’s been allowing me to advertise the cabaret in the staff newsletter, helping me with finding marketing contacts to boost ticket sales for it, or offering me a telephone interview for a permanent position rather than a ‘live’ one so I could do it from bed whilst recovering.

I even got home a few days after surgery to a beautiful bunch of flowers and a ‘get well soon’ card!

Entering back into work whilst under post-op movement restrictions has been made as seamless and easy as possible, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has helped with carrying parcels, reaching items off the higher shelves in the office and generally making everything run much more smoothly.

There’s a really solid sense of community here at Lighthouse, and it has been so fulfilling and nourishing to work with people who have both a passion for the arts and deep care for the people around them.