The LGBTQ Community and Fear of Housing Discrimination

LGBTQ people face discrimination in a number of ways every day, including in the housing industry. Those who are looking to purchase a home may be very reluctant due to stories they’ve heard about real estate agents, sellers, and lenders discriminating again st them. Studies done by Freddie Mac show that almost half (46%) of the 85,000 LGBTQ renters they surveyed are concerned that they will be discriminated against in their hunt for a house. The same study showed that 13% of those who did buy a house feel like they faced discrimination in some form.

Fear as a Barrier to Homeownership

The LGBTQ Community and Fear of Housing DiscriminationThe impact of this fear of discrimination is easy to see. Nationwide, 65% of people own their own home. However, in the LGBTQ community, this rate is only 49%. The fear of being discriminated against, even in areas that are quite liberal, leads to LGBTQ individuals and couples to abandon their dreams of owning a home before they even start.

For some, the fear isn’t even about the home buying process. They aren’t afraid of being discriminated against by real estate experts, lenders, or even sellers. However, they are concerned about their neighbors. Some 40% were afraid of how their neighborhoods would treat them if they started a family. This is one reason why looking for homes in the gay district is helpful—in most cases, you don’t have to worry about your neighbors, at least as far as accepting your relationship or decision to start a family goes.

Do You Have Anything to Truly Worry About?

Yes, sadly, discrimination against the LGBTQ community still happens. While it’s not always obvious in the real estate industry, it is present. Fortunately, it’s not always prevalent, especially in certain areas of the country. Plus, if you choose to work with a gay or lesbian real estate agent, you can at least know you’re working with someone who will not discriminate against you. They will be able to help you through the process of buying a home while also alleviating any worry that you may have about your agent.

Should You Change Real Estate Agents?

Being a member of the LGBTQ community may make you hesitant about simply hiring any real estate agent. You want to make certain the person you’re working with is going to be able to help you find the home that fits all of your needs, while also respecting who you are. In some cases, you may find that the agent you’ve hired doesn’t seem to be on the right track. Should you look for someone new? Here are a few times when you certainly should change real estate agents.

You Feel Discriminated Against

Should You Change Real Estate AgentsAs a member of the LGBTQ community, you may have witnessed or even been the target of discrimination at some point in your life. You do not have to accept it or continue to subject yourself to any type of discrimination. If you believe your real estate agent has an issue with your orientation or gender, even if it seems more like a subconscious discrimination rather than intentional, it’s time to seek out someone else. You’ll find many gay or lesbian real estate agents across the country who will be happy to help you find a home.

They Don’t Understand Your Needs

If your agent isn’t a member of the LGBTQ community, they may not really understand your needs. They may assume that you’re looking for something in your home that fits the stereotypical image of a gay or lesbian couple. You may not be interested in this at all. These agents may not even think that you have any interest in having children or living in a particular school zone. If your agent doesn’t understand your needs because they can’t look past your orientation, don’t hesitate to find another agent.

You Make Them Uncomfortable

As surprising as it is in today’s day and age, it’s still possible to meet people who have never dealt with anyone in the LGBTQ community before. In cases like this, your agent may not be discriminating against you in any way, but they may be very uncertain in how to approach you. This nervousness may truly come from a place of ignorance—they simply don’t know how to act or are afraid of saying the wrong thing.

The best thing to do in such a situation is to actively bring it up. Talk to them about why they’re nervous. You may find that doing so actually gives you the chance to teach them about the LGBTQ community. You may make a new ally out of them. In other cases, though, they may admit that they simply don’t know if they’re the right agent for you. In that case, they may suggest you work with someone else before you bring it up.

No matter why you decide to change real estate agents, remember that it’s your right to. If you don’t believe your agent is able to help you find your next home, look for one who can, such as one of the amazing agents that are part of the GayRealEstate.com network.

Hell’s Kitchen – Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool You

Hell’s Kitchen is one of the more notorious-sounding neighborhoods in New York. Just based off the name, it certainly doesn’t sound like a place you’d want to move. While it’s true that the area did once have a poor reputation, in recent years it has undergone gentrification. While it was originally the home of many poor immigrants, today Hell’s Kitchen is populated by many actors and young professionals. It’s also one of New York’s primary LGBTQ communities.

How Hell’s Kitchen Got Its Name

Hell’s Kitchen Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool YouThe neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen is more officially known as Clinton, but few people call it that. It occupies the area between 34th and 59th and from Eighth Avenue to around 43rd Street. No one is actually certain how the neighborhood got its unique nickname. There are a few different stories. One claims that Davy Crockett coined the term while making horrible comments about the Irish immigrants in the area. Another says Hell’s Kitchen was originally used to describe a building on 54th Street but later expanded to the entire district.

Greenwich Village and the Gay Exodus

Greenwich Village was one of the first gay villages in New York City, but because of gentrification and other changes in the neighborhood, the cost of living has increased over the years. In the early 1990s, the neighborhood saw something of an exodus due to the expensive housing prices and other costs. Many gay and lesbian residents moved to nearby Chelsea. However, it didn’t take long for housing prices in this area to also skyrocket.

The gentrification in Chelsea led to a number of people moving to Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood is now considered by some to be the new gay center of Manhattan. However, while it’s still more affordable than Greenwich Village and Chelsea, it’s true that costs are increasing in Hell’s Kitchen.

Points of Interest

One of the central locations in the Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ community is the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. This church is primarily focused on serving the LGBTQ community, though it does have members of all orientations and gender identities. The church was founded in Los Angeles, but it has moved several times until it found its current location in 1994.

The Actor’s Studio, an organization for actors, directors, and writers, is located in Hell’s Kitchen. A number of well-known actors have studied here under the direction of Lee Strasberg. The studio draws a number of aspiring actors to Hell’s Kitchen, many of whom live in the Manhattan Plaza.

The USS Intrepid is docked on the Hudson River Pier 86 on 46th Street. The aircraft carrier serves as the main part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which also includes a Lockheed A-12 plane, a submarine, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Interested in moving to Hell’s Kitchen? The many restaurants, studios, and other locations make it a great place for aspiring actors, directors, and writers. A gay or lesbian real estate agent can help you find the perfect place in this unique LGBTQ neighborhood.

The History of the Gay Village

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, you may feel more comfortable living around other individuals, couples, and families who are also a part of the community. This often means moving into an area that has become known as a gay village, gayborhood, or gay ghetto. While you’re working with a gay or lesbian real estate professional to find your perfect home in one of these neighborhoods, you may find it odd that so many LGBTQ people decided to live together. Where did these gay neighborhoods come from?

The Gay Village Started in Germany

The History of the Gay VillageThe first neighborhood to be recognized as a gay village was in Berlin. The neighborhood of Schoneberg became popular with LGBTQ homeowners during the 1920s, several decades before the idea of the gay village even existed. Most LGBTQ people gathered in bars rather than certain neighborhoods.

In the U.S., the gay village didn’t become a recognized concept until the late 1960s and 70s. Thanks to the Stonewall Rebellion in 1965, the LGBTQ community became more recognized, leading to the appearance of more gay neighborhoods across the country. The shift from bar to community was a major transition for the LGBTQ community and helped to show that its members were just like anyone else—neighbors, co-workers, and families.

What Makes a Gay Village?

What exactly is a gay village, though? Is it simply a neighborhood where a certain percentage of homeowners or renters identify as LGBTQ? For some, that is enough of a definition. Most neighborhoods do have more identifying characteristics, though. Originally, gay ghettos were run-down areas that were fairly cheap. These parts of town were considered areas where “disreputable” people lived. Many LGBTQ people were forced to move to these areas due to threats of violence and intolerance in the more affluent parts of town.

Because many of these LGBTQ homeowners took care of their homes, many gay villages went through gentrification. Today, these older historic homes are often worth a lot of money. In Chelsea, New York, for example, home prices have dramatically increased since the area became a gay neighborhood in the 1990s. The same is true with areas such as Andersonville, Chicago; South End, Boston; and West Hollywood.

The Modern Gay Village

Fortunately for the LGBTQ community, there’s no longer as much antagonism as there once was. Today, while there is still some persecution towards LGBTQ individuals and families, it’s not as wide-spread, and fewer people are finding themselves run out of a neighborhood because of who they’re in love with. Because of this, there aren’t many new gay neighborhoods appearing. The gay village isn’t likely to vanish overnight, but there is, thankfully, less of a need for them.

Federal Law and LGBTQ Housing Discrimination

One of the worst feelings is being discriminated against. Sometimes it’s obvious. You know right away that someone isn’t treating you fairly simply because you identify as LGBTQ. Other times, it’s much more subtle. This can almost be worse than obvious discrimination because you’re left wondering if it’s actually happening or if you’re just imaging it. When it comes to housing, there are laws in place to protect you against discrimination. It’s important that you know these laws and your rights, so you understand how to battle discrimination if it affects you.

The Fair Housing Act

Federal Law and LGBTQ Housing DiscriminationThe Federal Fair Housing Act is the single legal document you need to understand when it comes to housing discrimination. This Act states that no one can be discriminated against based on color, race, sex, religion, national origin, familial status, or disability. While that doesn’t specifically say anything about gender identity or sexual orientation, the Justice Department has gone on record as stating that “sex” does include discrimination against transgender buyers and renters.

In addition to the Justice Department expanding this definition, the Housing and Urban Development department has also gone on record stating that the Act protects you from being discriminated against for “gender nonconformity.” This means that if you are biologically male, but choose to dress feminine, you cannot be discriminated against for not fitting the male stereotype.

Because the Act does mention familial status, many see it as protecting married LGBTQ couples or those who have chosen not to get married but want to live together. As with many laws, the way the Federal Fair Housing Act protects LGBTQ individuals and couples is still being tested and determined.

State Protections

Unfortunately, there aren’t sweeping state laws that protect LGBTQ homebuyers. Various states offer different protections. Some offer next to none, while others have passed legislation fully protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. Some states protect people based on sexual orientation, but not on gender identification. Then there are city ordinances that protect only those who live within certain metro areas. If you believe you’re dealing with discrimination in housing, it’s important to learn how your state and city offer protections. Speaking to an experienced legal expert is recommended.

Avoiding Discrimination

If you want to avoid discrimination in your search for the perfect home, one way of doing so is to use a gay or lesbian real estate agent. These agents understand what it’s like to be the target of discrimination and will go out of their way to make certain you’re treated fairly.

Should You Come Out to Your Real Estate Agent?

When buying a house as a member of the LGBTQ community, do you have to come out to your real estate agent? Should it matter what your orientation is or if your agent knows? It shouldn’t matter, although it does leave you open to discrimination, especially if you’re not working with a gay or lesbian agent. However, whether or not you do come out is up to you.

If You’re Married, It’s Important

Should You Come Out to Your Real Estate AgentIf you’re married, you’ll have to disclose that information when you’re applying for a mortgage. You’ll also want to have both of your names on the deed to the property. This means that your agent will need to know about your relationship. You’ll also have to come out to your lender and to the title company. The easy part about this is that you’ll “come out” in your paperwork. You don’t need to have any kind of conversation with anyone—they will see that you’re married on the loan information.

It’s Helpful in Some Situations

It can be helpful for your real estate agent to know that you’re looking for homes in the gay district or that are near LGBTQ businesses. Knowing that you’re a part of the community also means that your agent will know to show you homes in more accepting neighborhoods rather than those that tend to lean more conservative. Every piece of information you can give your agent will help them narrow the search and find homes that are absolutely perfect for you and your family.

It Depends on the Area

Of course, some cities and states are more conservative and less welcoming than others. If you’re looking for a home in one of these areas, you may not want to immediately come out to your agent. Even if you’re looking at homes with your partner, your agent may not immediately assume that you’re together. Some agents simply won’t care either way, and even those who aren’t supportive of the LGBTQ community will often be professionals. That’s not to say discrimination doesn’t exist—it does—but don’t assume that you will automatically be discriminated against.

If you’re single, there’s really no reason to say anything to your agent unless you want to. The same goes if you’re in a relationship, although your behavior towards your partner may give it away. If you’re at all concerned about being the victim of discrimination, find a gay or lesbian real estate agent. They’re more common than you might think.

What to Look for in a Gayborhood

If you’re ready to talk to a gay or lesbian real estate agent about moving into a gayborhood, you may be so focused on the overall area that you don’t stop and consider other aspects of where you’re moving to. Yes, it can be great being surrounded by other LGBTQ neighbors, but sometimes, a gay village has too many downsides to truly be the right place for you to move. Here are a few factors you should always take into consideration before you move to one of these neighborhoods.

Is it Conveniently Located?

What to Look for in a GayborhoodGay districts are often located in great parts of the city, but sometimes those locations simply aren’t that convenient for you. If you have to commute 30 minutes or aren’t in the right school district, you may need to weigh living in a gay neighborhood against being located closer to work or school. Even if you think the commute won’t be that bad, you may find yourself considering another move in a few years because you’re tired of it.

What Are Your Neighbors Like?

Many people love the idea of living near other LGBTQ individuals and families, but don’t stop and consider what their neighbors are really like. For example, some people aren’t comfortable or don’t see the need to make a big deal out of their sexuality. If you’re one of these people, are you really going to like living next to someone who has rainbow flags hung everywhere? If you like living on a quiet street, will you want to be near people who throw dinner parties or come home late at night after the clubs close?

Don’t simply look at your neighbors as LGBTQ people—look at them as the people they are. If you drive through the neighborhood and hear a lot of noise or see a lot of cars parked up and down the street on the weekends, you may not be happy there.

Do the Homes Meet Your Needs?

This is perhaps the most important question—are the homes in the gay neighborhood what you really need? You don’t want to buy a home that’s too small or too large for you and your family. You also don’t want to purchase a home that costs more than you can afford. Sometimes, moving into the gayborhood simply isn’t financially a good idea. When that’s the case, you shouldn’t hesitate to look elsewhere.

Wilton Manors – A Gay Village for Retirees

Wilton Manors in Florida is home to a very large LGBTQ population. Many of these individuals are retired individuals and couples who have moved to Florida to spend their golden years in peace. The city has the second highest percentage of LGBTQ residents to total population (behind Provincetown, MA), with 140 out of every 1,000 identifying as a member of the community. This 14% is much, much higher than the national average of 1.1% of the U.S. population, so if you want to spend time with other LGBTQ people, Wilton Manors is definitely one of the places to go!

The History of Wilton Manors

Wilton Manors – A Gay Village for RetireesWhile it may not play as big a part in the struggle for equality as gay villages in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, Wilton Manors still has an interesting history. It’s a somewhat young city—it was incorporated in 1947. Despite that, it quickly became a haven for LGBTQ individuals. As more and more LGBTQ people moved to Wilton Manors, related organizations came into the area. This led to the funding of the Wilton Manors Pride Center, a branch of the Stonewall National Museum, and the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center. The city’s police department features LGBTQ officers and a liaison officer, plus a number of elected city officials, including at least one mayor, have identified as members of the community.

Senior Living

In addition to the condos, apartments, and single-family homes that retirees can purchase in Wilton Manors, the city is also home to an LGBTQ senior housing complex. This development features more than 50 housing units, all of which are priced for the limited income retirees often find themselves with. They also offer extra features to help those in need, including assistance getting to doctor’s appointments and other locations.

A Great Location

While Wilton Manors isn’t a huge city—it has a regular population of a little over 11,000, although that number greatly increases during vacation season—it is located near Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park. Both of these cities are also home to a number of LGBTQ individuals and families, plus they offer many different shopping and dining options. The city is also considered a part of the Miami Metro Area, and thanks to several major highways, it’s easy to get to travel to many of the events Miami hosts.

Pricing in Wilton Manors

Wilton Manors does have a wide range of housing prices. Those who qualify for living in the senior living center may find that their housing costs fit nicely into their budgets. Those who are looking to purchase a home, though, may end up spending $500,000 or more depending on where in Wilton Manors they want to be located. A gay or lesbian real estate official can assist you with finding a home that fits your needs and your budget.

Things Straight Real Estate Agents Might Not Understand

There are many great real estate professionals out there, and chances are any of them will be able to help you find the perfect home. However, there are some things that gay or lesbian real estate professionals will understand right away while straight agents may not. Here are a few things these real estate experts might not grasp right away and why going with an LGBTQ agent might be a better option for you.

They May Not Realize You’re a Couple

Things Straight Real Estate Agents Might Not UnderstandSome straight real estate agents might assume you’ve brought a friend, or worse, your brother/sister, to look at the property with you. They won’t realize you’re looking for a home for the two of you. Correcting them can be a little stressful since you never know how they will react. An LGBTQ agent may ask if you’re together rather than assume you are.

They May Not Look for Family Homes

Another thing a straight real estate agent may do, often unconsciously, is assume that you won’t be starting a family. They may look for smaller homes for the two of you that simply won’t work for children. If you’re planning on starting a family either through adoption or surrogacy, it’s important to let them know upfront that you need a home that will support this. Some may assume that since the two of you can’t biologically have a child together, you’re not planning on a family.

They Sometimes Fall into Stereotypes

While even LGBTQ real estate professionals can do this, it’s more common for straight agents to stereotype gay and lesbian couples. They may assume that lesbian couples want a large shop for their home improvement projects or that gay men want very fashionable houses with a lot of color and extravagant décor. They might show you homes that play into these stereotypes at first, which can be frustrating.

They May Assume You Want to Live in the Gay District

If the city you’re moving to has a gay district, a straight real estate agent might assume that’s where you want to live. You might not have any interest in that area. A good agent, no matter what their orientation, should ask you upfront what part of the city you’re interested in or if there are any particular areas you need to be close to.

Overall, a straight real estate professional may simply make some assumptions. Often, they aren’t actively discriminating against you or purposely doing hurtful things. If you want to avoid any misunderstandings, though, working with a gay or lesbian agent will help you get your housing search off on the right foot.

Capitol Hill – Denver’s Gay Ghetto

When most people think about gay neighborhoods, many think of sunny California or busy New York City. Few people would name Colorado as a gay-friendly state, but Denver actually has a very active LGBTQ community. The Mile High City is home to a great gay neighborhood called Capitol Hill. This part of the city is not only the focal point of Denver’s LGBTQ community, but is also a major epicenter for artists and musicians, especially those in the alternative punk genre.

Defining the Neighborhood

Capitol Hill – Denver’s Gay GhettoCapitol Hill is almost a perfect square. To the north is Colfax Avenue/Highway 70. Its southern border is Seventh Avenue, while the east and west sides of the neighborhood are defined by Downing Street and Broadway respectively. Some people define Capitol Hill to also include the neighboring Cheesman Park, but the city officially defines that area as its own neighborhood. There’s also a North Capitol Hill that sits above Colfax Avenue, but it’s more often called Uptown.

It’s Got Everything from Sun Rise to Sun Set

You can start your morning in Capitol Hill by getting coffee at one of the trendy little cafes that dot the neighborhood. Then it’s off for some light morning shopping at one of the boutiques before lunch. During the evening, there are a number of concert venues and bars where you can party the night away. Cheesman Park and nearby Civic Center Park may not fall within the neighborhood, but they’re not far, and both hold a number of different festivals. Several clubs in the area cater to the LGBTQ community, of course.

A Neighborhood in Gentrification

While it’s something of a stereotype to say that all LGBTQ neighborhoods go through gentrification, it is true of Capitol Hill and, in fact, most of central Denver. Many of the historic homes in Capitol Hill are large and fairly elaborate. That’s because the area was originally home to some of Denver’s high society families. Following the 1893 Silver Crash, however, some of these homes were demolished and cheaper apartments were built. Capitol Hill was then solidly middle class until the 1950s, when it became a fairly poor area.

Since then, Capitol Hill has slowly been rebuilding. The gentrification effects peaked in the mid-2000s, and today, those cheap apartments have been replaced with luxury condos. Despite this, some of the older housing is still quite affordable. On average, Capitol Hill isn’t as expensive as some of the other neighborhoods. One of the local gay or lesbian real estate agents can help you find a home in this area that fits your budget.