05.23.24 Editor’s Desk

This month marks three years since my husband and I moved into our home, the first either of us bought. We closed in a highly competitive seller’s market, so it’s an experience we’ll never forget.

The process all but ensured we’ll never move again, in part because we have a fantastic interest rate — we also bought at the height of the pandemic — but mostly because we love where we live. Building the next phase of our lives here has been a privilege I try not to take for granted.

I still regularly find myself in our backyard, staring up at the stars or escaping the sun under a tree, reminding him that it’s all ours. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop pinching myself that I own a house, let alone a mailbox, driveway or even grass. It’s wild.

As someone who was happily raised in rentals and spent most of his adult life living in them, I just never expected to be a homeowner. Buying never seemed necessary and it felt overwhelming, which it certainly was at times, but I’m happy to say it was worth it. The memories we’ve created at home with friends, family and each other will last a lifetime.

There was a time we weren’t so sure, though. The market was hostile and we were under contract for multiple houses at various times. To help give us an edge I’d even started submitting letters with our offers, which ended up helping and hindering us along the way.

I’m absolutely certain we ended up in the home that we were meant to, but there are still a few losses that sting. We drove by one recently and I was reminded of why.

About a month before we secured our house, we came upon a newly listed property online. We’d lost quite a few bids before it, and even some money on inspections, so things were looking bleak.

We decided we should see the house in person, and quickly, but we weren’t the only ones. A party was finishing their walkthrough as we arrived for ours, and our realtor got confirmation they were putting in an offer that night.

We did the same, and even went in above the sellers’ asking price without asking for a single concession. Hoping to set us apart further, I included a personal plea — one I still have thanks to iCloud storage.

“To the happy home,” the letter begins. “My name is Ryan Williams-Jent and my husband is Wade. We were fortunate enough to tour your residence last night and since then, we’ve been dreaming about calling it our first home.

“We could tell from the moment that we entered that it has a legacy of love, one we’re eager to build upon,” I continued. “We’ve been working toward purchasing our first house since our marriage nearly five years ago and we think yours feels right. We think our 10-year-old Pomeranian and our 6-year-old Jack Russell will feel the same about your yard.”

Cheesy, I know. But the décor had serious “live, laugh, love” energy and they were obviously dog people. I was doing whatever I could.

“I don’t know what selling a home is like but I can tell you that since we’ve been looking, buying one can be overwhelming,” I concluded. “We’ve loved and we’ve lost but we’re hopeful that’s all been because yours was waiting for us to find it. We hope you’ll consider our offer and whatever your decision, best of luck on your next steps!”

Short, perhaps a little too sweet, but I thought it’d help seal the deal. I learned instead that it did the opposite as soon as I wrote “and my husband is Wade.”

The sellers took the opposing offer — which their realtor told ours was for less money — because “they were a traditional couple with traditional beliefs.” We couldn’t believe it.

It’s something we could’ve fought, but who knows how it all would’ve turned out. Ultimately we decided we didn’t want to give them our money anyway; they could “Make America Great Again” without it.

I considered keeping the details of my marriage to a minimum for future letters, but I’d rather be celebrated for who I am than accepted for who I’m not. Looking back on that experience has been the perfect reminder for why as we head into Pride month: we ended up exactly where we were supposed to be, authentically.

In this issue we showcase ways you can live loud and proud all June. That includes rocking out to “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at American Stage and checking out Tampa Fringe. In news we detail Equality Florida’s record-breaking St. Pete Gala and more.

Watermark is proud to be your LGBTQ+ news source, so thanks for reading and supporting our advertisers. Please stay safe, stay informed and enjoy this latest issue.

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