Minnesota queer Realtor helps families find homes after fleeing states with anti-LBGTQ laws

Buying a home is one of the most expensive and stressful life events, especially with the current market conditions. It can be an even more emotional experience for families who are relocating to Minnesota from a state where they feel their rights are under attack.

Mariah Hamm calls herself "your neighborhood queer Realtor." Her mission is to create inclusion in the home buying and selling process from showings to closings.

"I'm here to advocate for you. I'm here to hold a safe space for you," Hamm said.

Four years ago, Hamm got her real estate license with that goal in mind. She works for Quinby Partners, a queer women-owned brokerage based in St. Paul. The Wisconsin native is passionate about old homes, thrifting, and most importantly, making her clients feel seen and validated.

"Being a masculine-presenting woman, that was a goal for me to want to carve out a space that I would feel comfortable in," she said.

Hamm said her clients will have a safe space with her, but she’s also made a network of lenders, title companies, and more who will make her clients feel safe.

"(They will) treat them right, use their correct pronouns, deal with nuanced situations, like with dead names on paperwork and stuff like that – where they feel comfortable and supported and not just like, ‘Oh, I have to diminish myself in this experience’ instead of being celebrated in this experience,'" Hamm said.

Hamm is seeing more LGBTQ+-friendly Realtors. However, at a time when more states are passing laws targeting LGBTQ+ rights, she's also hearing increased desperation from prospective clients who can't find a safe space.

"It's hard to get multiple emails from just random people that are like, ‘Hey, we have to leave. We're not safe here,’" Hamm said.

Anton and Mike Prosser found Hamm through a Google search for queer Realtors in the Twin Cities.

"I felt like another queer person was going to understand the urgency we had in leaving and was going to understand a lot of the anxieties and fears we have about moving to a new place," Anton Prosser said.

The couple felt abandoned by Texas, where Anton had spent his whole life. 

"I worried that our marriage would be a risk. Our health care would be at risk. Owning a home could be at risk," said Anton Prosser.

When Anton initially started getting health care to transition, he had a hard time accessing care.

"I had to call two dozen different doctors and every one of them said, ‘No, we won't give you that service,’" he explained.

They had the choice to go anywhere and they picked Minnesota, in part due to its long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees. They left Texas and moved to Minnesota in September 2022. Already, they say their daily lives are astonishingly safer.

"I used to leave the house always prepared to have some confrontation wherever I went in public, especially if I have to use a bathroom. And I've never had anything like that here," Anton Prosser said.

"We went to the pride festival (at Rice Park). And it's the first one we've ever been to where there were no counter-protesters at all," Mike Prosser said.

Sarah Johnson and Scott Blake are also Hamm’s clients. They just closed on a Minnesota home in the last month. They were activists in Omaha, Nebraska, but they watched the state and city pass laws that didn't align with their views.

"Nebraska is taking away everyone's rights, and Minnesota is interested in letting people have bodily autonomy, and so that was a big factor," Johnson said.

"This is the first time for both of us that we intentionally chose a place to live," Blake said.

They found their dream home through the care and compassion of their Realtor, who's been there with everything from restaurant recommendations to advice on navigating a Minnesota winter.

"Being a part of the community, I think, is helpful because I've experienced things in my life that made me more aware of the nuances that other people might experience," Hamm said.