Did you know there was a word of the year? If we’re being honest, I had no idea. But sure enough, I saw an article on CNN.com that reported on Dictionary.com’s choice. While they didn’t go with “vaccine,” the choice of Merriam-Webster, they picked a word that is one of the most important to any diverse group and most definitely the LGBTQ+ community: “allyship.”
Dictionary.com defines the word this way, “the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.”
“Allyship” was added to Dictionary.com this year but has its root to the word “alligare”, which originated in about 1250 and means “bind together, combine, unite.” Yes! This does feel a little like a trendy “dictionary battle” or spelling bee.
As I routinely delve through the spreadsheet of approximately 2,000 members of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and talk with so many, I am thrilled that our group is dramatically impacted by allies. In fact, 14% of our members are not LGBTQ+. Instead, they have joined to show their support, friendship and/or to learn from and engage with our members and the entirety of the community.
They are heroes and so incredibly important to LGBTQ+ people. They are paving the way for a better society, one that is open and accepting that fully accepts people for who they are. And they have joined a movement that is being led by our younger generations.
It is incredible to see how little Gen Z and younger millennials care about a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. We hear stories all the time about a young adult having fears of coming out to friends. Instead of recoiling, these friends provide love, hugs and support. Nothing changes. We also hear even better stories of those in the younger generations who don’t worry at all about how they will be accepted when they are ready to live their authentic selves. They already know their circle of friends won’t care at all. They know they will be welcomed with love, hugs and support. And hopefully older generations, including family and friends, will become increasingly welcoming.
We are seeing the impact of this youth movement. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy group, just shared incredible and really important news. There are now at least 20 million Americans who identify as LGBTQ+. That equates to 8% of the nation’s adult population. Our community has essentially doubled from 4.4% reported in 2016.
It is important to understand this growth is not because there are more LGBTQ+ people all of a sudden. Instead, it is because as society becomes more welcoming, we are feeling more comfortable that we will be accepted for who we are, without threat or injury to our careers, our opportunities or our rights.
Here is some proof. Back in February, Gallup unveiled a report that showed that 15.9% of Gen Z, those born between 1997-and-2002, identify as LGBTQ+. The numbers then decrease to 9.1% of millennials (1981-1996), 3.8% for Gen X (1965-1980) and 2.0% for baby boomers (1946-1964). Clearly the younger generations are more comfortable to self-identify.
Yet while so much has been written and said about the empowerment of our younger generations, I don’t want to lose site that there are millions of Gen Xers and baby boomers who are also welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. And, in real estate, there are hundreds of thousands. They may have an LGBTQ+ child or a family member, close friend or acquaintance who is LGBTQ+, or they are comfortable enough in their own skin to realize that it is okay to be supportive of people who may be different from them.
But are LGBTQ+ people really different? In one way yes. Our sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression is different. But in every other way absolutely not. We are people. And we do the exact same things everyday as everyone else. Including buying and selling homes. In fact, Zillow recently shared that 12% of all home sales nationally stem from the LGBTQ+ community.
If more of us are going to engage in the American dream of homeownership, our allies really matter. Remember LGBTQ+ people go into the buying process more nervous than your non-LGBTQ+ clients. Along with the challenges and emotions that all face, we are also concerned about safety and acceptance levels of our new community and neighbors. Believe me, LGBTQ+ people know all about the horror stories of discrimination. We also know that not every real estate agent is friendly to our community, the most recent example of which is playing out in Missoula, Montana.
Along with our Alliance members, the LGBTQ+ community wants to work with you. But we have to know you exist. So here is a plug to join The Alliance as we enter our second year of impacting the lives of the LGBTQ+ buyer and seller, our members and help guide continued change in the real estate industry. I’m so serious about this that I would like to extend a discount on your first years’ membership by using code “RIS2022” at checkout, which will take 15% off a professional membership.
We also want more allies to emerge. That is why we created the Alliance Certified Ally™ course. It is an incredible journey that allows you to better understand who the LGBTQ+ community is as we cover what “the letters” stand for, the unique challenges we face, how the laws are titled against us, what housing discrimination looks like and how it impacts us, along with how we can empower you to be more welcoming and supportive.
If you want to bring our course to your company or REALTOR® association, please contact us at email@example.com.
This is the year of allies!
From the bottom of my heart and every member of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. Thank you!
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.