Commentary: Authenticity at the Holidays

Did you see that Merriam Webster’s word of the year for 2023 is authentic?  They may have selected the word because Taylor Swift was searching for her “authentic” voice and society is searching for ways to parse what is AI versus authentic content.

“Authentic” is also a word that has been synonymous for years with the LGBTQ+ community. You’ve heard us say, “We want to live our authentic lives.” This means we want to live as who we are and who we were born to be. We don’t want to be forced to live our lives to make others happy.

Please understand that this is not going to be a normal real estate related commentary. Instead, I wanted to offer my support and that of the entire LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance as so many of the 1.5 million REALTORS®, thousands of others in the mortgage and title businesses along with those working in ancillary services will have a new experience this holiday season.

As we gather together, many of you reading this may experience your child or loved one coming to you to share who they really are—a member of the LGBTQ+ community. It might also be a friend or colleague. If and when this moment happens, remember it came after a journey for them. It likely took them some time to fully understand and embrace that they are part of the LGBTQ+ community and gain the confidence to tell you. 

By sharing this moment, your child or loved one is expressing their love for you. Deciding to live authentically is a magnificent, important, and powerful moment. No matter how hard it may be for you to come to grips with who they are, your child or loved ones don’t want to pretend anymore to be someone that they aren’t. 

Embrace this moment. Recognize that living authentically is critical to their well-being. And doing it with parental or familial love and support can also be lifesaving.

It’s important that you know that for most coming to grips with the fact that we are LGBTQ+ isn’t always easy. There is no handbook for discovering who you are and the process is different for every single one of us. For some, it happens at a very early age. It might happen as we start to reach our high school or college years. For others it’s later in life. 

For me living authentically happened much later in life. When I was much younger, my grandma said I was “funny,” meaning she thought I was a lesbian. But after I joined the National Guard, I followed a man to work in Alaska. We had a child together. It was only after I left him that I realized who I was. Years later, after I moved to Houston where I currently live, I met my eventual wife and today live as a proud lesbian woman and even prouder mom. I’m very, very happy. 

Your child or loved one deserves to be happy too.

Being authentic goes both ways. 

Some of us can have the comfort and the confidence to “come out” without much fear. Others are scared to death. They don’t want to lose you. 

Being authentic in return means taking the time to get used to your loved one living as who they want and need to be. Being authentic means you need and deserve time to process the news. And being authentic also means loving your child or loved one in the same way you always have – if not more. 

If you need to, attend PFLAG support group meetings and talk to others who are supportive of an LGBTQ+ person. 

The word of the year is authentic. Join the LGBTQ+ community and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and welcome the word “authentic” into your lives. Take the Stop Hate in Real Estate pledge. And, most importantly, understand that we want to live our authentic lives and we want you to live authentically loving and supporting us.

If more than 1.5 million people in real estate can love their LGBTQ+ children and loved ones—along with the rest of our growing community—we will all be in a better place!

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