Toronto

Celebrating Pride: Learning through our stories

5 min readJun 26, 2020
Celebrating Pride: Learning through our stories

Every June, we celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride in honour of the Stonewall Uprising, a series of protests that erupted in June 1969 after police raided NYC’s Stonewall Inn and its patrons took a stand against America’s discriminatory policies. Today, that anniversary is a time where we all come together to celebrate the impact and journeys of all LGBTQ+ people around the world.

And while the celebrations may look a little different this year, with Pride gatherings moving online, the reasons we celebrate Pride and the LGBTQ+ community haven't changed.

As we honour Pride month by elevating some of property.ca’s LGBTQ+ voices with the stories below, we also recognize the contributions of the Black trans people, who fought for our rights 51 years ago.

Brittney Anyon, VP Operations Banner

"I knew when I was a kid that I was different, but I struggled with my identity. To be honest, I still do. But I have learned that that’s okay. I have realized that wherever you’re at in your journey is perfect.

I came out to my sister when I was 19 and didn’t come out to my dad until I was 29. I told him, honestly believing it could be the end of our relationship. It was the scariest moment of my entire life, with feelings I will never forget, but it ended with him telling me that he loves me and nothing would ever change that. That night was a turning point in my life because I finally felt free.

My colleagues at property.ca are some of the closest people in my life and are all members or allies of the LGBTQ+ community. In the past 5 years, we have been supporting each other and making memories that I will carry with me forever."

Brittney Anyon, VP Operations

Connor Hilborn, Deal Administrator Banner

"My older sister asked me if I was gay back in 2012, which is when I first came out. I told my parents a couple of days later. I was very fortunate with how they took it.

I struggled with depression and not fully accepting or understanding who I was for many years. Coming out was the most rewarding and scariest moment in my life but being able to be myself around my family means everything. My parents are a huge part of my life and I remind myself daily how fortunate I am.

I started working at property.ca in September 2019. Since my first interview, I noticed a strong LGBTQ+ presence, which drew me in even more. I’ve never worked for a company that had LGBTQ+ management, so I was pretty excited. It makes me proud going to work every day and working for a company that fully supports who I am."

Connor Hilborn, Deal Administrator

Ed Emmanuel, Deal Administrator Banner

"Growing up in NYC, I was always pretty open around friends and family. I'm from a very religious family. I wouldn’t say I was ever in the closet, but my mom found a note when I was already living with my first boyfriend that basically confirmed it. I eventually took my boyfriend to a family gathering, so I guess that was my coming out. My dad is still having a hard time with it, but he has always respected my partners.

I moved to Toronto four years ago and started working at property.ca last March. During my years in banking management, I always felt I had to downplay being gay. It was quite buttoned up so I had to separate my work and life. I have never felt I couldn't be myself around the office or interacting with my colleagues at property.ca. My experience here has been the best ever."

Ed Emmanuel, Deal Administrator

Grace Alzate and Lisa Mamers, Sales Representatives Banner

"We started dating in 2008, and in 2013, Grace proposed on a beach in Portugal… Lisa didn't see it coming! We got married in front of 150 friends and family: it was absolutely the best day of both our lives and was the wedding to beat in our family for years to come.

Grace made the move to real estate a few months before our wedding. She found herself at property.ca after a recommendation by an old friend who was (and still is) an agent with the brokerage. Immediately, it felt like home. And when we saw how many married couples found success in the industry working together we thought, "we could do that!" So Lisa joined property.ca, too, and we started the rewarding (and challenging) work of growing our business together as a couple.

Working together as an LGBTQ+ couple at property.ca has been incredible. We knew when we started working together as an openly gay couple that the brokerage would have our backs, 100%. The brokerage fosters a culture of support and equality and we have always felt at home with our property.ca family. Naturally, we had a few reservations about how clients or agents might react to us, but in the 3 years we have worked together as a couple we have never felt anything except LOVE and RESPECT. The staff and agents at property.ca reflect our awesome city with diversity, passion and excellence, and it is an organization where we feel we can be our authentic selves and THRIVE."

Grace Alzate and Lisa Mamers, Sales Representatives

Matt Himes, Sales Representative Banner

"For me, coming out was probably the easiest part of growing up gay. I was fortunate to have a very understanding and accepting family and a great group of friends. I was 16, and from what I remember, people were starting to talk. I decided I wanted to be the person that told my parents and not have them hear it from someone else, although at this point I'm sure they already had their suspicions.

I worked up the courage to have the conversation and it honestly couldn't have gone better. That night, when I went to bed, there was a little note on my pillow that said "we still love you" with a heart around it. Navigating this as a young person was bad enough and I'm so grateful everyone was so accepting. I realize that's not always the case for everyone, so I feel really lucky to have the support I did.

Working at Property.ca has been a continuation of this great support system. Over the past number of years, I've been lucky again to meet so many incredible people who have always made me feel proud to be myself."

Matt Himes, Sales Representative

Thanks to all for sharing your stories - and happy Pride, everyone!

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