Connecting Out-of-Staters with Santa Fe’s Welcoming Gay Community: Mark Banham

m_banham_sm-200x300Mark Banham received an email from a couple looking to relocate to Santa Fe from the Florida. Barry and Samuel were looking for a Santa Fe real estate agent to find them a house and community where they could feel comfortable. They happened to stumble across Mark’s website, GaySantaFe.com. Barry contacted Mark to schedule some showings for them. This is a typical lead for Mark Banham. Mark is an expert at helping people relocate to Santa Fe and showing them the gay friendly community of the City Different.

“I enjoy taking them under my wing and showing them the community here. I want them to feel welcomed and connected to the gay community.”

However, little did Mark know how different these clients would be from his typical leads. Mark planned nine showings for one day. He asked the couple what they were planning on doing after. They told Mark they were planning on going to the courthouse to get married.

IMAG0108-300x179“I was surprised, but New Mexico did just allow same sex marriages so I understood. I just thought we better hurry because I had nine showings for one day.”

New Mexico is one of the few states where same sex couples can get married. The New Mexico Supreme Court granted same sex couples the right to marry on December 19, 2013.

After a long day of viewing houses, Barry and Samuel were impressed with Mark as an agent and his friendly, outgoing personality- so much so, they asked Mark to be the best man and witness in their wedding.

“Yeah, they just really liked me. They wanted me to be the Best Man.”

Barry, Samuel and Mark drove to the courthouse on Galisteo and the couple got married. Mark went from being their realtor to being their best man and good friend.

IMAG0109-300x179It was an unusual day, going from showing homes to being a best man in his clients’ wedding, but in a way, it was a typical thing for Mark. He prides himself in being a full service provider to his clients. He specializes in helping people relocate to Santa Fe and discover the open and gay-friendly atmosphere the city offers. Mark doesn’t only help his clients find a home, but also a prideful life in a gay community that welcomes outsiders. To help his clients develop friendships and network, Mark often hosts dinner and cocktail parties at his private residence or hosts other networking opportunities for his friends and clients.

“I love connecting people with people. All of my clients are my friends. I don’t go away after a sale, I’m a realtor and friend for life.”

This is not a typical practice by realtors, but one that sets him apart. Mark enjoys becoming friends with his clients and showing them the benefits to Santa Fe’s gay community.

“It’s about relationships for me, not a price range. I don’t base my clients on the price of a home. Like I said earlier, it’s about connecting people to people and people to the community in Santa Fe, which I love.”

Santa Fe has been a gay-friendly community for many years. It’s a place with little judgment or persecution for being the person you are. Unlike bigger cities, Santa Fe does not have “gay ghettos” (neighborhoods that are primarily occupied by gays or lesbians, i.e. the Castro in San Francisco). Santa Fe is a place where you don’t have to define yourself, only be yourself. It’s a community that Mark Banham continues to connect people to.

 

Interview by Henry C. Valdez

Award winning writer, actor and filmmaker from Santa Fe, NM. Political Science nerd with a MA to prove it. Poet and baller at heart. For more, valcorpmedia.com.