Buying with Pride

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Best Buy is what Dianna Alonzo lives and breathes, seemingly 24/7. As operations senior for the electronics giant’s newest location in Southpark Meadows, she works about 40 hours a week, but she also takes work home. If she’s not constantly moving and on her feet, she worries. Best Buy is also where she met her girlfriend, Brittany Padilla.

For as long as she can remember, Alonzo loved spending money at Best Buy. Her time with the company started as a temporary employee in September of 2007 in El Paso, but she’s been working in Austin  since January of 2008. Prior to opening the Southpark Meadows store, Alonzo worked at the location off I-35 and 51st street. Alonzo didn’t sense enough connection to the community at her first store, so in Austin she spearheaded Best Buy’s Pride Employee Business Network. There are EBNs for several affinity groups, including Hispanic and female employees, and the Pride EBN is for LGBT and gay-friendly employees.

“No matter where I went when I moved here, I always saw gay people everywhere,” Alonzo said.

Her girlfriend had been working at Best Buy a year before Alonzo, and at first, they didn’t immediately click. Alonzo didn’t get the hint that Padilla was interested, either. “I thought she was the most annoying, stuck up person I had ever met!” Padilla said, laughing. “And she thought the same about me. But we started talking and we enjoyed each other’s company.”

Padilla was talking about how she’d like to find one person who she always got along with and how kissing that person would impact it. Alonzo offered to set her up with her friends and was shocked to learn that Padilla was referring to her and their burgeoning friendship. “I didn’t know what to do, because she’s beautiful, so for somebody like that to say something like that to me was a big deal.”

Alonzo’s other major hobby–some might say obsession, but in a healthy way–is with Britney Spears. To call her a big fan of the Louisiana-raised pop singer is the world’s biggest understatement. She reads about her, loves her music and tells Padilla whenever she’s saying something that could’ve come out of Spears’ mouth. Coincidentally, Padilla is also blonde, slim and pretty. But much more self-aware.

Although Alonzo moved to Austin a year before Padilla, the pair stayed in touch and their bond grew stronger. Padilla moved to Austin in February of last year, and they celebrate their anniversary as a couple on February 26. In fact, on the twenty-sixth day of each month they do something to celebrate, whether it’s dinner, a movie or playing video games at home. On rare days when Alonzo is off, they may go kayaking or take in the sights around the city. The couple has a Jack Russel terrier and they’re looking for a cat, too. Alonzo also loves playing video games where she gets to destroy the bad guys.

At Best Buy, Alonzo supervises 15 to 20 customer service representatives and works to make sure that everyone who walks into the store ends up walking out with a smile.

“Sometimes you have to bring work home,” Alonzo said. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that you need to get done. But you can’t be in front of the customers if you’re always in the office doing paperwork.”

When Alonzo was 16, she felt it was time to come out but was nervous about her mother’s reaction. They’re very close, talking by phone at least once per day, and Alonzo inherited her mother’s strong work ethic. She approached her while dinner was being prepared, “I was crying,” she said, “I finally felt that I could be me around my mom and not have to lie about things.” Before Alonzo could even say the words, her mother said she already knew.

“I like to drive home and visit my mom and little brother as often as I can,” she said, noting the seven-hour drive to El Paso.

For Alonzo, working at Best Buy comes with a deep sense of pride. Not only in what she’s accomplished in such a short time, but also in working for a company that supports her as a lesbian and gives back to the LGBT community. Beyond being honored as a grand marshal in the Austin Pride Parade in June for her work with the company’s Pride EBN, Alonzo noted that Best Buy sent volunteers and made a donation to Out Youth’s Queer Prom this year.

“I’ve done whatever I can to gather more and more people,” Alonzo said. “The majority of the employees in the EBN are straight allies.”

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