I grew up in the third suburb of Minneapolis called Farmington, Minnesota. I lived a very normal childhood, played and loved sports, and in my later teenage years realized that I was gay. It was not an easy process, but my family and friends supported me.
The motto “love is love” has been true in my life and has allowed me to succeed personally and professionally, which ultimately led to my marriage to Michael at the end of 2019 and became the CEO of the company. LGBTQ + Real Estate Alliance in 2020.
Believe me, not every member of the LGBTQ + community is so lucky. And I know my wonderful moments have been clouded by the pandemic and the subsequent politics of hate.
Every time we think we are moving forward as an equal nation, racial hatred against blacks, Asian, Hispanic and LGBTQ + people is ripped off. This culture of fear, which we have somehow become, is toxic.
People are people. Our nation continues to evolve and will become more than 50 percent variety for 25 years, according to the US census… Instead of welcoming, breaking bread, attracting and learning from those who are different, we instead cultivate fear, transform it into hatred, and then justify it politically.
But you and I know what the news won’t tell you; people are generally good. The greatest justice to be served in this country is to eradicate racism and discriminatory beliefs, and math is on our side.
There will be a tipping point where fanatics will be overwhelmed by the number of good people in our country and in the real estate industry who will rise up welcoming diversity, brokerage capital and the drive for the LGBTQ + community and inclusion (DEI).
As for the LGBTQ + community, there is strong evidence that this is happening. Campaign for human rights reported that 71 percent of Americans support the Equality Act, a bill shamefully stuck in the Senate that would grant federal protected status to sexual orientation and gender identity and essentially prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ + people at the federal level.
As society becomes more receptive, Americans, mostly led by the younger generation, are free to be “themselves.” This has led to an increase in the number of Americans “leaving” LGBTQ +. growth to 5.6%, according to Gallupup from 4.5% in 2017. In addition, 15.9% of Gen Z members openly identify themselves as LGBTQ +; that’s a huge difference compared to 9.1% of millennials.
The LGBTQ + Real Estate Alliance was launched last October and it was the greatest honor in my professional life to see the largest real estate brands, lending and title organizations partnering with us. The leaders of these companies want to actively participate and drive change. They are allies who have joined the NAR and the state association of realtors to bring DEI to the fore.
The Alliance Board of Directors has recognized that we have a role to play in helping Allies understand the LGBTQ + community and our concerns, which will pave the way for greater recognition. This led our National Vice President Alex Cruz and Tim Tyler to spearhead the creation of the first real estate alliance certification program, the Alliance Certified Ally program.
With the support of US Bank, we launched the Six Markets Tour, a combination of virtual and face-to-face training sessions, bringing together hundreds of LGBT + and allied real estate professionals. I thought it would be helpful to share some common themes, questions and areas from which the greatest lessons can be learned.
What is LGBTQ +?
In a few short years, we have gone from gay to LGBT and LGTBQ and now the “+” sign has been added. We’ll get it. This can be confusing, especially if you travel to other countries where the abbreviation can be 12 letters long.
This is why we talk about words like cis, non-binary, pansex, intersex and demisexual and explain their definitions. We also discuss the use of personal pronouns. It takes practice to get used to him / him, her / her and him / them.
Our allies take comfort in knowing that this is the path of evolution for us in the LGBTQ + community. However, they are willing to learn, broaden their horizons and understand that education leads to greater recognition and allows our community to best define who they are and have always been.
Fair Housing and LGBTQ + Community
Almost every visitor knows that discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
This leads many of our visitors to assume that fair housing is currently being extended to the LGBTQ + community. They were shocked to learn otherwise.
The Fair Housing Act 1968 does not offer federal protection for the LGBTQ + community. This is why the Equality Law is so important. This will protect us from housing and credit discrimination. Many are also surprised that the 27 states do not provide any protection either.
Discrimination is real
We spend time in the course telling the stories of several LGBTQ + Real Estate Alliance members who have been discriminated against in their businesses. Our members were shocked to learn that this happens to their colleagues, such as Sean Leighton and Jimmy Hendrickson with Keller Williams in Orlando.
Here’s the start of an email they received earlier this year after distributing a regular newsletter:
Dear hometown boys,
Why, for God’s sake, are you promoting a public display of your homosexuality? This is SO wrong on many levels. How can you expect a “normal” person to respect your lifestyle? I know what you are doing to each other and it hurts. And do you expect a normal person to accept that? Not in a million years.
Use of terms
Apparently, the assassination of George Floyd in May 2020 sparked a revival, including the way society has adopted racial overtones – master bedrooms, blacklisting, etc. Grandpa, easy walk and many others.
In the LGBTQ + community, we show how words like “his and her toilets” can be contextually offensive or even offensive.
Transgender people face significant challenges in the buying and selling process (and in most other aspects of life).
For example, they may identify as a man, but on their driver’s license and other forms of identification, they are listed as women with a given name instead of their chosen identity. These concerns are especially relevant when applying for a loan and financing, signing legal documents, or even being accused of fraud.
The course opened my eyes and the positive response was overwhelming. Our next private lessons in Minneapolis, August 11. and Columbus, Ohio, July 18.… We are also working with the Nevada and Las Vegas Association of Realtors to host a course on September 22nd to kickstart our inaugural conference at the new Las Vegas Hilton at Resorts World…
Each participant who completes the course becomes a Certified Alliance Alliance and receives a copy of our fully illustrated homebuyer guide, our marketing identification seal and certification.
If your association or company is interested in having a member of the Alliance conduct the course locally, please also let us know by email. firstname.lastname@example.org… And, as always, thanks for your alliance.
Ryan Weyandt – CEO LGBTQ + Real Estate Alliance, a 501 (c) 6 non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ + community towards home ownership by advocating community housing interests. Founded in June 2020, the Alliance is a comprehensive organization that works to improve the professional lives of its members through the Alliance’s public referral community.