Happy PRIDE month. Throughout the Bay Area, joyful, festive, rowdy, and loving celebrations are taking place that honor the LGBTQIA community, and rightfully so. There's probably nowhere else on earth where diversity is celebrated as wholeheartedly as it is right here. To quote Bob Dylan: "The times, they are a-changing."
But until recently, that wasn't the case (denial and secrecy ruled the day). Anyone who's ever worked with me knows I'm not a fan of either.
I grew up in Sacramento (it was a fairly provincial town in the 70s) and until I moved to San Jose at the age of 18 to dance for Great America in "The Bugs Bunny Review," I'd never met an openly gay person. Or more accurately, I probably had but didn't yet know it. (I still had A LOT to learn.)
Theater kids were eye-opening, to say the least. And while not all the young men in the cast identified as "gay," the majority of them were, and made no attempt to hide it. (In retrospect, they were ahead of the curve.) I think my generation was probably the first in which sexual identity was recognized as having more than one option. (We naively thought there were three: homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual). Turns out "three" wasn't even close. It seems that sexual identifying lives on a MUCH broader spectrum - as does gender.
Far be it for me to speak for the LGBTQIA community (cisgender husband, two kids, and a dog; about as "straight" as it gets), but as our society becomes more "woke," as we embrace our fellow human beings, as we accept others on their own terms, as we make room for ALL people to live their authentic selves, as we GROW into acceptance and inclusion, shouldn't our definitions expand to accommodate this brave new world? At the very least, shouldn't our "real estate" marketing terms reflect the BIGGER, BRIGHTER, BOLDER rainbow? (Absolutely.)
For years, the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) has forbidden descriptive words such as 'family," as it was considered discriminatory, specifically because not ALL Buyers fell into Main Street's very narrow definition of "family." A nice idea perhaps, but a false premise to begin with; the perfect nuclear family has always been an illusion at best. In my mind "family" are the people you gather with, support, and love, AND they do the same in return. Frankly, your genetic link has very little to do with it.
"Walk to" was similarly discriminating against those confined to wheelchairs, and so it went: a long list of words that Agents were warned would likely create lawsuits from offended parties . . . And while I followed those guidelines to the letter, part of me has always wondered why Agents could accurately advertise a "view property," (Are the blind not as easily offended?) but could NOT legitimately advertise "walk to" when, in fact, the home sat directly across the street from the school? Honestly, it made no sense.
As a result, Real Estate marketing is filled with euphemisms and code words to dance around what we REALLY mean: "walk to" has become "close to," "nearby," "within a stone's throw," etc., while "family" evolved into "multi-generational." "flexible living" and similar like-kind terms. Sometimes, it's just a GREAT FAMILY HOUSE within walking distance of . . . . (What's wrong with that?)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but words, in and of themselves, are neither bad nor good; they're just a pile of letters (LGBTQIA for example). However you slice it, phrase it, or manipulate it; it's important to acknowledge that the concept of "family" has expanded to include unions of all stripes and persuasions - and that's as it should be. In fact, it's long overdue.
Whether we're forced to socially evolve by mandated laws, or we voluntarily welcome the kaleidoscope of colors with open arms, I believe we're making progress, starting with a vision where people can love freely; without shame, and without secrets, creating their own version of "family," whatever that may be.
At the very least, it's a start. It's a good start.
BTW, we've got a couple of great "family homes" about to drop in Piedmont. . . .
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.