Happy Pride Month, Everyone!
Hi, I’m Bradley Roschyk, a happily married small-town guy living in the big city.
I grew up in Wisconsin and just about everyone in that small town looked like me. Caucasian, conservative, straight. What did he say? At least I thought I was straight! I struggled to be true to myself as a child, but I always knew I was different. High School was like bully central for me. As a freshman, I skipped school, because I was bullied by others so much for my hair being too girly, my clothes being too preppy, my head bobbing when I walked and my voice…well it squeaked when I spoke.
Even as a sophomore, I had a terrifying female senior steal my lunch every day for two months, until I finally acted out and politely told her she needed to stop bullying me. That is when she said “It’s about time you found your voice, I’m different just like you! Never stop using your voice!”. Her voice and Michael Jackson’s song, “Man in the Mirror” have been a “call to action” ever since.
Looking back as a young college student, I focused my time and volunteerism on continuing to fight for my voice to be heard so others like me could live their TRUTH no matter what that Truth was. I was faced with many challenges in college and was introduced to “hate” when I was assaulted after a GLO (Gay and Lesbian Organization) pride event, these individuals targeted me because I was being my true self. Gay and Proud of it!
My dad taught me to forgive, but not forget. God rest his soul. He taught me to use the negative as a positive and learn from it. I didn’t let this assault stop me and it only fueled my fellow student volunteers from GLO. We used a terrifying moment for one and made it a “LGBTQIA+ in the Mirror” moment for everyone by bringing Diversity training to the university. It was Jane Elliott’s “Blue eyes/Brown eyes” exercise, it was a game-changer for the university and the students.
Each year in June we celebrate Pride Month, because in 1969 (the year I was born) there was a series of riots for gay liberation at the Stonewall Inn, New York. Recognizing Pride month is not possible without recognizing the hundreds of thousands of “others” that had to take a stand to fight for the liberty and freedom to be who they are. It goes without saying that 54 years later we are still marching for equality, liberty, rights, and freedoms and as a queer community we do it with everyone that soars under the colors of the rainbow, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and all others.
As a leader and educator in the rental housing space, I focus on mentoring and developing people like YOU to find your own voice. It’s ok to BE Different and BE Yourself.
It’s important to realize that “all people are different.” Just think about what makes you and your team members different like this. “You were born that way-you cannot change these things about you; you grew up that way – socioeconomics and your physical community or hometown; you learned that way-you learned it from someone, you can still change it.” Learning to embrace each of your team member’s diversity, individuality, unique skills, experiences, perspectives, and thinking is what makes strong teams and great company culture.
Remember to pay it forward; once you find your Voice, learn about being an ALLY and stand with and protect others that are different than you. It’s even more important to understand that “we” are more powerful together, especially when seeking equity, equality or liberty and justice for ALL.
As we celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride this June, remember to Believe in Yourself, by being your TRUE self. I have a few tattoos on my arms. They state: “I Believe” “Everything is possible for he who believes” and “Be the Change you want to see.” Self-confidence fosters effective leadership. Believe in yourself!
And in the famous last words of superstar RuPaul: “If you cannot love yourself, how the heck you gonna love someone else!”
About the Author: Bradley Roschyk (he, him, his) CAM, CAPS, NAAEI Faculty is a Senior Training Director for Berkshire Residential Investments based in Dallas, Texas. Bradley serves as a committee chair with BerkshireUNITES, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee at Berkshire. He is also a Board member at the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas and has served as a volunteer for numerous committees with the association since 2008. Bradley was recently named the 2023 Support Professional of the Year at the AAGD Sapphire Awards and is a previous recipient of the TAA Barbara MacManus Property Manager of the Year and NAA’s Paragon Award for Property Manager of the Year.