What it’s like to be an openly gay real estate agent in Toronto

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Toronto is one of the best cities in the world to live and be gay. It’s consistently on the most gay-friendly cities on the planet lists, for both travellers and residents. People from all industries, from police to paralegals, march in Toronto’s Pride Parade each year, one of the largest of its kind.

So it should come as no surprise that LGBT real estate agents in the city are also out and successful.

Emma Pace has been an agent with Zoocasa for nearly a year and has nothing but positive stories to tell about her experience.

“Some people may shy away from real estate because of its quick pace and ever-changing nature, but I love the challenge,” she says. “There’s nothing like the rush of picking up the call from the listing agent and being told that you’ve won the house for your clients by the skin of your teeth.”

Emma was born in London, Ontario, a moderately sized city of over 360,000 people. She moved to Toronto to be herself and to push her career in the right direction.

“Growing up in a smaller, more conservative area, I always felt like I was second-guessing myself and whether or not it was okay for me to be myself,” she says, adding that it’s an uncomfortable feeling and can really drag a person down.

“Toronto took that away instantaneously. You can truly be yourself here.” She says Toronto is special, in that there’s a unique spot for you no matter what your thing is, and there are inclusive groups for anyone, based on sexual orientation, race, religion, or interest.

Emma worked as a manager of a car rental location and a banking account manager before diving into real estate last year. Working with clients drew her to the field and she’s been pleasantly surprised with her interactions and ability to help others.

“My goal as an agent is to help my clients find their dream home and get it under the best terms possible,” says Emma. She adds that although she tries not to delve too much into her personal life unless her clients inquire about it, at which point she’s happy to discuss.

“I’ve definitely had open discussions with my clients about me and my girlfriend, how we met, and our goals for the future, but it isn’t something I would say comes up every single time.” She says that many clients want to connect on a personal level, and she’s happy she can be open and honest with clients who are accepting and understanding, like most in the city.

Although she says her answer might have been different in another market, Emma says being gay has never had a positive or negative affect on her career. She does emphasize how accepting Zoocasa has been.

“I’ve felt one hundred per cent comfortable since I started here,” she says. “Lauren, our CEO, does an excellent job of hiring a diverse group of people and has developed a very inclusive workplace,” something she finds very important.

Emma and her partner have been together for about three years and plan to get married someday. She admits she’s lucky to have a family who supports her, with whom she can be her true self around, and her welcoming employer only adds to her happiness.

When asked for what she’d say to those struggling with their sexuality in their workplace, Emma has some sound advice.

“Everyone deserves to be happy and everyone deserves the opportunity to be themselves. If your workplace is holding you back, you should find a company with a focus on equality and make the switch.”

About Jam Michael McDonald

Jam is a content editor based in Toronto. He's been the editor of a community newspaper, a national magazine, and two startups. Although he lives in a tiny condo, he uses every corner, and is an avid cheerleader of the compact home movement. You can find him every day on Twitter @mcjamdonald.

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