Looking Beyond the Labels During Pride Month

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In June, people throughout the world join together to celebrate Pride, elevating the voices of the LGBTQ community. 

This month has given us all an opportunity to peel back the labels often associated with being LGBTQ and applaud the courage, beauty, and diversity that exist among our NextHome members. 

“The most misrepresented aspect of the LGBTQ community, in my opinion, is it is a uniform group who all have the same thought patterns, experiences or perspectives,” said Chance Schubert, owner of NextHome NWA Realty. “In reality, we are all individual people who have our own way of thinking, exactly like every other community, with so many different identities and stories of our own. This pattern can be broken by companies and individuals alike with meaningful and real representation, continued education, and truly genuine support in all areas and aspects of our society.”

By listening with an open mind to the personal stories of our franchise owners, we gain insights into the profound impact of Pride and the ongoing journey toward inclusivity and acceptance.

“On a personal level, Pride Month has given me the courage to be more open about who I am,” said Steven Burch, owner of NextHome Unlimited. “I get to be my authentic self, not just the parts that fit into a neat little box. And that’s made me a better leader, a better colleague, and a better person.”

Living authentically has helped all of our diverse NextHome members successfully lead a wide variety of homebuyers through one of the biggest purchases they will ever make. Connecting with clients as human beings is at the core of any great real estate experience. On a corporate level, this means offering more than just a token nod to diversity. Connecting with each other and listening with genuine care is crucial. 

“Companies have absolutely shown their stance on Pride, good and bad,” Chance said. “NextHome has shown they are a company that welcomes, includes, and supports every single person, no matter who they are, what they believe, or who they love. I feel like I truly have support and respect here, from the CEO all the way down to each franchise owner and agent. This has allowed me to be the most authentic version of myself in my business, connecting with clients on a deeper level than if I had to hide a part of who I am.”

Our most successful members know that when authentic talents are pushed into the shadows, professional service suffers. 

As a child, fear pushed Ben Argall’s identity into the shadows. That crushing weight led to an almost deadly mental health crisis. Knowing that authenticity was the best way forward, Ben embraced bravery and honesty. His decision led to a supportive group of friends and family who helped him on his journey toward a thriving life filled with professional excellence. Today, Ben uses his experience to lift and inspire others. 

“For me, Pride Month is a time of reflection and celebration,” Ben said. “It allows me to look back on that scary day and appreciate my growth as a person. It’s an opportunity to share my story, hoping to inspire others who may be facing similar challenges. Years later, it’s incredible to be seen not just as a gay person, but simply as a person.”

Today, Ben is the owner of a thriving NextHome franchise, NextHome Superior Living. By courageously sharing his story, Ben empowers all those around him. 

“Never did I imagine becoming a leader,” Ben said. “As an introverted individual, the thought of owning a real estate brokerage and empowering others in their careers would have seemed laughable. Yet, I believe being gay has shaped me into a leader. Empathy and the ability to see the bigger picture are invaluable traits.”

Together, our NextHome members are leading the way forward toward a more inclusive world where people are respected for their talents and abilities – not judged by their gender identity. 

“The very first thing we all need to do is to be open-hearted and open-minded,” Steven said. “Then it goes to education, understanding the history, the struggles, and the victories. Don’t make assumptions, and don’t put people in boxes. Recognize that everyone’s experience with their sexuality and gender identity is unique, and respect that.”

“The world is finally waking up to the fact that love is love, and people should be free to be who they are without fear of discrimination or persecution,” Steven added. “This month is a celebration of authenticity, a time to honor the courage it takes to live out and be proud. It’s a tribute to those who fought and continue to fight for the rights and recognition of the LGBTQ community. But it’s also a reminder of the work that still needs to be done.”

In the workplace, LGBTQ people still often feel that their gender identity unfairly speaks louder than their professional skills. Real estate isn’t immune from this. 

“Starting out in real estate a decade ago was tough, but I never knew the struggles of some of my clients being uneasy with a gay REALTOR®,” Ben said. “I was fired for being gay at one point by a couple when they learned of my sexuality. I also learned to quickly read people; sometimes the wife would be so comfortable talking design with me, while the husband might be uneasy.”

As our NextHome members learn to navigate providing exceptional representation, Ben learned to lead with knowledge. 

“In such cases, I could talk about renovating houses and relate to the client with my hands-on experience,” Ben said. “I’ve done plumbing, electrical work, and even jacked up a house to fix foundation issues. This approach not only helped me succeed in my career by selling more properties, but it also challenged and broke down the stereotypes associated with being gay.”

NextHome is proud of the excellence each broker, owner, and associate brings to every client, of every gender, and any background.

“The best career advice I have received is to be real and transparent with people,” Chance said. “Being real means I don’t have to hide any part of me from my clients. They know who I am. It has helped me build deeper, stronger relationships with clients with unbreakable trust. People really appreciate you more when they know you are being genuine, when they know you are honest and they value that. It has led to uncountable long-lasting relationships with my clients, connections, and business partners over the years that continue to help me grow.”

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