‘Why choose a gay friendly builder when you can have a friendly gay builder?’
After facing twenty years of homophobia in the building trade, Ray Bulloch created and developed one of Britain’s first LGBT building business in Newham. Ray is originally from Tower Hamlets, and when I met with him, he discussed his life and how his building company R&G LGBT Builders became so successful. As the building trade has a strong sense of male dominance, it makes an uneasy environment for gay men. Ray has estimated that in Britain, there are only around 100 gay builders, and it is hard for them to come out as they may face abuse by their fellow workers and employers.
During Ray’s building career he managed to hide away his sexuality and the person he really was – he would sometimes lie about his relationships and once asked a girl to pretend to be his girlfriend in a photo to defuse the subject of girlfriends with his colleagues. However things came to a head at a building job when one of Ray colleagues purposely wrecked a gay client’s home, Ray refused to let the person in question into his van. That same day, he quit his job and started his LGBT building company. Encouragement for his new business venture was given by his partner Micky who had given Ray the confidence to come out as a gay man. Before he met Micky, Ray had been married to Rica who - herself bisexual - helped Ray with his sexual orientation. Unfortunately Rica passed away just a few years into their marriage, leaving Ray and their daughter. Ray has said of Rica that their marriage was one of honestly and they had a strong connection.
Since coming out as gay, Ray believes ‘ it has given builders a different outlook to what a gay guy is’. He says that some people have said that he doesn’t come across as gay, and that other builders say his pink pristine van is the ‘nuts’. After featuring in national papers who were interested in the first LGBT building company, Ray received three months of abuse. However, he also received emails from around the world, congratulating him on his company, with people saying that Ray is paving the way for the LGBT community within Newham, Britain and it would seem, around the world.
Rays van is not pink because he is gay it is pink because it stands out and attracts people. However the reason behind the pink van (and the pink work tools!) is not as you might think… Ray uses it as a way to donate money to cancer charities. After spending twenty years in the building industry where he was unable to come out as a gay man, Ray now loves his job. He works seven days a week, and enjoys creating people’s homes with his own ideas which can be found on his Facebook page R&G Builders.