CEO Ryan Weyandt shares the importance of providing support for the community within the real estate industry.
One of the questions I get asked a lot as CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is, “how many LGBTQ+ people are there in real estate?” Unfortunately, there is really no way to know except to do some quick math. Gallup recently shared that 5.6% of the U.S. population is part of the community. With about 1.5 million REALTORS®, let alone the thousands in mortgage, title and other ancillary services, the LGBTQ+ population in the industry is likely more than 100,000.
Frankly, there’s no reason to think that number isn’t greater but we simply don’t know it as a fact, yet. As society welcomes the LGBTQ+ community into the light, so many are becoming comfortable with living their truth. That is likely why Gallup’s same report found that the younger the generations, the greater the LGBTQ+ population. A whopping 15.9% of Gen Z self-identifies as being part of the community followed by 9.1% of millennials, 3.8% of Gen X, 2.0% of baby boomers and 1.3% of the oldest generation.
And by the way, Zillow recently shared that approximately 12% of all real estate sales in 2021 were from those who identify as LGBTQ+. Clearly our community is growing in size and stature. Which brings us today: National Coming Out Day.
This annual Oct. 11 celebration began 33 years ago to mark the one-year anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which attracted more than 500,000 folks. The modern version has evolved since 1988 and is now celebrated in all 50 states with more and more global visibility.
This day of acceptance and celebration helps ensure that everyone feels safe, secure and has a groundswell of support if they decide to “come out of the closet.” It doesn’t matter where we are on the journey. We may just be starting to come to grips with our sexual orientation and/or gender identity or ready to tell our friends, work colleagues and families. We continue to evolve every day learning about ourselves as we navigate life’s different experiences. Today is your day; it’s our day.
And the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance has a front row seat at a major Coming Out Day event in Minneapolis as we join with national leadership of the LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Bank, Best Buy, the Minnesota Twins and others. Alliance Board member Feroza Syed, an associate broker with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, will be delivering the keynote address at the event and she will share her incredible story.
Feroza is a transgender activist and advocate who was appointed by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to the first LGBTQ Advisory Board for the City of Atlanta. She was also the 2019 Grand Marshall for Atlanta’s 50th Pride celebration and was recently featured in Vogue.
But Feroza began her real estate career with a fear of being discriminated against, leading her to remain in the closet for the first 12 years in the business. Think about that. One of the industry’s greatest voices and successes was not ready to come out. That is what today is all about.
I believe there are a lot more “Feroza’s” in real estate. There are people who may be on the journey to coming out, and maybe have in certain aspects of their lives, but possibly not in their professional life. There are others afraid to do so, fearing their business might suffer. The number of reasons are plentiful as are the steps we take towards making the decision to come out.
Today especially, I urge all of us to look at and to the youth of this country. They are amazing in their support of the LGBTQ+ community. They are more self-aware and confident in who they are despite the burdens of social media and growing up in a 24/7 news cycle. I can’t count how many times I have heard a story of a young person coming out to friends or family who react with a simple, “Congratulations,” give a hug and then move ahead with the rest of the day together.
That is what National Coming Out Day is about. Collectively, we can provide a national embrace and allow so many of our friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family the opportunity to live a happy and joyful life without the fear of rejection, judgement and reprisals.
I want to close by letting anyone who wants to talk about a desire to come out, or have concerns in doing so, know that the membership of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is here for you. We can answer questions, provide perspectives, and help you connect with local support groups including our friends at PFLAG and the Trevor Project. Feel free to visit our website at realestatealliance.org or connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veteran mortgage lender Ryan Weyandt officially became the CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance on Sept. 30, 2020 on the eve of the organization’s launch. Weyandt has spent the last 10 years in the mortgage industry, most recently as a mortgage loan officer at US Bank after serving six years at Wells Fargo. Prior to his lending career, he held a variety of senior roles with firms in operations and event management. He has served on the Minnesota Realtors® Diversity and Inclusion Committee and previously led the NAGLREP Foundation, along with being a past-president of the organization’s Minneapolis chapter. He is a University of St. Thomas grad who completed his Master’s work in Organizational Leadership at St. Catherine University. Weyandt was named as a RISMedia Real Estate Newsmaker in 2021.