There comes a time in everyone’s life when they feel a calling to speak up and speak out. As a proud real estate and LGBTQ+ community member, I feel called to lend my voice to a long-overdue conversation.
The importance of inclusivity and diversity, including all people in the axis of real estate, cannot be overstated. We are fortunate to be part of such a pivotal time in history when our shared devotion to Pride shines in each of us. We have earned the right to sing out and encourage others to do the same. Pride is of special significance to me.
Growing up in Tampa Bay, I took a bold step and was the first person in my family to live openly LGBTQ+, whereas others in my own family would call their partners their friends. In my conservative Catholic home, I remained true to myself even at such a tender age when taking a stand invited criticism.
I come from a community-minded family. My father, Dr. Anthony Acosta was our region’s emergency department physician for more than four decades, healing our citizens from the suffering they faced in their lives. Other family members were mayors and city council members dating back to the 1960s.
My grandfather built homes from South Tampa to Ybor City over his lifetime, inspiring my love of real estate. Descended from Sicilian and Spanish immigrants seeking a new life in America, I was born in and raised in St. Petersburg.
In founding Downtown Expert Realty, I, too, discovered a purpose: to make sure everyone feels deserving of a home where all are welcome. We in real estate can be a powerful voice in shaping our industry, including how we own and operate our businesses.
In a perfect world, no one should ever fall victim to cruel and unjust housing practices. But in our flawed humanity, inequality remains all too common. As an individual and business owner who enjoys many privileges, even I sometimes face discrimination. The existence of laws in place to protect fair housing is not enough. We must do more to raise awareness among employees and our organizations when others do not follow those laws in practice and in spirit.
That’s why it’s important to support and belong to organizations that effect change. An active member of the Tampa Bay chapter of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, I am the community liaison with Greater Tampa Realtors and advocate for equality, affordable and fair housing.
These worthwhile organizations don’t just talk about Pride. They celebrate it in practice and give LGBTQ+ members of real estate, title and mortgage companies a seat at the table. They help hold institutions accountable for discrimination in housing.
I encourage you to find and support Pride-friendly organizations. Consider organizing your own volunteer event and encourage agents in your network to participate. You can vote for LGBTQ+ housing rights with your dollars by serving as event sponsors throughout the year, not just during Pride Month.
More than anything, ask yourself — tomorrow, next week, next month — what can I do right now to make someone in the LGBTQ community feel included? Am I going out of my way to make everyone feel welcome in my real estate marketplace? Are my bylaws and business practices truly inclusive? Does what I say ladder up to my actions?
Because true Pride is not a solo performance. It is a chorus. Each of us in the real estate community have a place in the fight against LGBTQ+ housing discrimination. Approaching the conclusion of Pride Month, my dream looking forward is that we let this month serve as a launchpad.
In my lifetime, I hope to see Pride evolve from a talking point to a way of life, including among real estate professionals. Let’s celebrate diversity, as I like to say, Pride 24/7, 365 days a year — remembering that we are all equal.
Nicholas Acosta is a real estate broker and instructor. He launched Downtown Expert Realty LLC in Orlando, Florida, in July 2020.