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SLehmann_NAGLREP_group_shotOur industry is made up of all types of people. In fact, if I tried to name all the various ethnic backgrounds and cultures that make up the millions of real estate professionals in this country, no doubt I would miss many, if not most. The more time I spend in this profession, the more I have come to respect and embrace those who are different from me. I think it’s healthy having differing cultural backgrounds, with differing views of life or the real estate industry. It can only benefit our industry to debate and disagree, but also to find common ground – those common denominators that can bring us closer.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural National LGBT Real Estate Conference hosted by the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The conference is spread out across a couple of days and includes fantastic opening sessions and speakers, multiple breakout sessions to address specific issues to improve your business, social experiences that help build your referral network, and so much more. I was asked to participate in a panel discussion titled “Real Estate by Design: A Lifestyle Approach.”  I completely enjoyed myself participating in this panel discussion.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend this event at all. If I were to list the way I view myself, being gay wouldn’t even make the top 10 list. I have never considered myself to be a gay REALTOR®, I just happen to be a REALTOR® who is gay.

I felt that by participating in an event designed for a niche population, that I was in some way agreeing to marginalize that population, to exclude them (me) from the rest of society. I have never felt like a minority before, why start now? I truly thought by attending, I would be accepting myself as part of the problem, and not part of the solution.

I was wrong.

I should mention here that Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate lives by a set of core values that we call P.A.I.G.E.

Passion
Authenticity
Innovation
Growth
Excellence

I do not have the authority to edit these values, but I would offer an additional letter: “D.”

Diversity

Although I had my own fears of attending this event, I chose to do it at the request of BHGRE® because the company believes in Diversity, and it believes in me.  BHGRE believes in expanding our industry to be inclusive versus exclusive – it embraces those who are different. It believes in helping its brokers and associates to better their lives, expand their knowledge and widen their possibilities in an effort to “Ignite their Futures,” one and all.

So the questions I had about this NAGLREP conference were:

  • What can a trade show designed for the LGBT community teach an individual who is LGBT?
  • Is a trade show that is singularly focused on a minority population a worthwhile endeavor to attend?
  • Why would the LGBT community want to attend a trade show that may be viewed as being exclusive versus inclusive, when we have fought so hard for inclusion?
  • And lastly, who should really attend this type of event?

Read my answers to these questions in my latest blogpost on BHGRE’s Clean Slate blog. I hope to be invited back next year to represent Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in our endeavors to expand our belief in Diversity. I hope to see you all there, LGBT or straight, join us to experience the diversity of our industry and expand your business.

Ok. You have been P.A.I.G.E.D. See you next year in Fort Lauderdale, October 13-15, 2015!

For more on Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and to network and engage with top real estate professionals, take a moment to like All Things Real Estate on Facebook, follow@AllThingsBHGRE on Twitter, and follow our company page on LinkedIn.

For more information, visit www.bhgrealestate.com.

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