Pride Month: LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance Leaders Remove Barriers

By Hope Walborn | June 18, 2024 | 8 min. read

In commemoration of Pride Month, PAR recognizes two presidents of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance’s Pennsylvania chapters. The Alliance was founded in June 2020 by leading members of the real estate industry. Since then, it’s grown to include over 35 chapters across more than 25 states, providing members with a place to gather, collaborate and advocate for LGBTQ+ issues in housing.

Melissa Young is the founding president of the Pittsburgh Alliance Chapter. A Realtor® for eight years and a member of the Realtors® Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh, she decided to become a Realtor® because she loved helping people. Following a career in teaching, she reached out to a Realtor® friend, who quickly persuaded her to get her license.

“I did exactly what she said and never looked back,” Young says. “I love helping people find homes with grace, respect and a little bit of song.”

“Real estate has given me a lot of freedom to be myself in the workplace and a passion for fair housing for all,” she continues. “Having to be a smaller version of who I am to suit others’ expectations never really allowed me to be fully all that I can be. Real estate has given me this great acceptance of self and the acceptance of how the system doesn’t work for all. That knowledge and peace gives me space to help others in ways I never would have been able to do outside of real estate.”

Young’s favorite part of working with buyers and sellers is learning about her clients’ dreams and helping them take a step toward achieving them.

“I enjoy listening to everyone’s dreams for themselves,” she says. “How buying a home or selling their home will enable them to move forward with what they want in life.”

However, moving back to Pennsylvania from Chicago posed new challenges for Young.

“Moving to a new market where LGBTQ+ people do not face as much ease in the homebuying process or in the workplace has been truly one of the greatest challenges of my career. Yes, the ebb and flow of the market are always hard, but watching discrimination at a different level in a different market was, and still is, a shock to my personal safety and the safety I can provide for my clients in the homebuying and selling process.”

“Visibility will always be important. LGBTQ+ homebuyers and sellers deserve to have equal
representation from someone brave enough to be seen and to speak up for themselves,” says Melissa Young, Realtors® Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh.

The challenges Young faced as she transitioned into a new market sparked the beginning of the Pittsburgh Alliance Chapter.

“When I moved back to Pennsylvania, I was immediately aware of how different it was to be in a state where I am not technically a protected class. I was faced with discrimination at my brokerage and needed support. I wanted Alliance. I know the robust chapter in Chicago and was so disappointed when I learned Pennsylvania did not have a chapter.”

“I needed support,” she recalls. “I needed Alliance, so I was going to get a chapter here, for purely selfish reasons. I and one other member, Brandon Wilson, hit the phones. We needed 15 members to have an official chapter. This was the beginning of June last year. By the middle of June, we had our 15 and we officially had a chapter.”

“I had endless stories from other Realtors® who faced the same discrimination I did,” she adds. “I had stories of Realtors® whose clients faced discrimination. Pennsylvania needed Alliance and now we have it.”

The Pittsburgh Alliance chapter has over 40 members and is the second chapter in the nation with the highest attendance at their events.

“I got the support I needed,” Young says. “I am still paying the price for speaking up against discrimination I dealt with, but speaking up against what I faced was the only option to support a future where my community can be equal in the workplace. With support from Alliance, I was able to move brokerages. I am feeling accepted and full of gratitude to Berkshire Hathaway The Preferred Realty. I take great comfort knowing that my voice will help other LGBTQ+ people. I hope no one will have to go through what I went through.”

Young continues to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and strives toward representation for LGBTQ+ homebuyers and sellers.

“Visibility will always be important,” she emphasizes. “LGBTQ+ homebuyers and sellers deserve to have equal representation from someone brave enough to be seen and to speak up for themselves. I strongly feel being visible brings comfort to people who perhaps have not always had safety or equal representation in this industry. I am seen so my clients know they are seen. I see them as homeowners. As renters. As sellers. As people in a world where they are not always seen. I see myself. I see you.”

Young advises other Realtors® to remain teachable and encourages them to look at themselves and their own unconscious biases. She recommends completing the At Home With Diversity certification and the National Association of Realtors® Fairhaven: A Fair Housing Simulation training to further promote diversity, equality and fair housing in the industry.

After founding the Pittsburgh Alliance Chapter, Young reached out to Alliance members in Philadelphia and encouraged them to start their own chapter as well.

Mon Kramer is the president of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance Eastern PA Chapter. They’re a member of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors® and have been a Realtor® for six years.

“In 2018, I was at a point in my life where I felt like I wanted a career change,” Kramer recalls. “I was a full-time French professor and had a handful of other odd jobs to make ends meet. One day, I took an online personality test to see what other jobs might be good for me, and real estate agent was on that list!”

“The thought of me being a real estate agent felt ridiculous, but I asked a few friends what they thought about me pursuing that path and they said I would be fantastic at the job. I’ve lived in Philly almost my whole life and I had many connections with people in the city already, so it felt like a risk worth taking. I’ve honestly never loved a job more.”

“Real estate has changed my life in so many ways,” Kramer shares. “I’m no longer living paycheck-to-paycheck, which is a huge burden lifted. I’ve made so many fantastic connections and friendships through real estate, both with colleagues and clients. It’s a hard job at times because I care about my clients so much and want them to be successful in their real estate moves. I can put a lot of pressure on myself! But every day I feel like I’m walking in my purpose, and that’s the ultimate motivator.”

“I love helping folks build equality and create generational wealth through homeownership,” shares Mon Kramer, Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors®.

As a Realtor®, Kramer enjoys working with both buyers and sellers by helping them achieve their goals.

“I have so much fun working with buyers,” they say. “Each house, client and transaction is different. There’s a lot of variety, and as a Gemini, I value novelty. And I love helping folks build equity and create generational wealth through homeownership.”

“Working with sellers brings a different energy,” they add. “Recently, death and divorce have been the most common triggers for many of my clients’ decisions to sell. This can be a vulnerable and delicate time for my sellers, so I enjoy helping them navigate the process by making it as smooth as possible.”

However, throughout their real estate career, Kramer has faced many challenges regarding their identity in the workplace.

“As a visibly queer and trans Realtor®, I’ve faced a lot of skepticism and lack of knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community,” they share. “Not from my clients, but from Realtors® and other real estate professionals. After years of using they/them pronouns, I am still misgendered constantly, even when being introduced as a panelist or speaker. It can feel isolating, but I keep going because I know how valuable it is to represent the LGBTQ+ community in this industry.”

“LGBTQ+ representation in the real estate industry is incredibly important for two reasons. First, it removes barriers for queer and trans people by providing a safe and inclusive real estate experience. This is necessary in order to close the LGBTQ+ homeownership gap. Second, it inspires queer and trans folks to join the real estate industry because they feel like there’s a place for them.”

Why would Kramer encourage other LGBTQ+ members to become involved in real estate?

“Selfishly, I want more people to hang out with during events!” they joke. “But seriously, there is so much opportunity in real estate and adjacent industries. I’ve curated a list of LGBTQ+ professionals like painters, home inspectors, lenders and many more that I recommend to my clients. As a Realtor®, there is a niche for everyone out there. You could be your city’s go-to queer real estate agent!”

Looking for events?

Pennsylvania Realtors® can access monthly webinars and much more.

Upcoming Events

Did you like this post?

Click on a star to rate this post!

Average rating 2.9 / 5. Vote count: 12

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Related Articles

Not a Realtor®? Learn how to become a member.