EMBRACE • EDUCATE • EMPOWER • LOVE
“Our voices can and DO make a difference. Education makes a difference. Compassion makes a difference.” - Heather Hester
I had the distinct honor of being a member of the panel discussion for PFLAG of Northern Illinois’ Fall Conference on October 8. The theme of this year’s event was “The Power of Advocacy.” This a perfect theme as our voices is needed now more than ever.
Prior to the panel discussion, which concluded the day, we heard from several speakers from Howard Brown and Equality Illinois as well as those who shared moving personal stories. The common thread? Alarming statistics and a call for continued (dare I say increased?) advocacy.
Here are just a few:
More than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state capitals across the country this year.
The Dobbs decision created a dangerously slippery slope for reproductive, LGBTQIA+, and human rights in general.
Anti-LGBTQIA+ harassment and discrimination are once again on the rise.
Books are being banned from schools and libraries around the country at an increasing rate.
There is hate, hostility, and fear. There is misinformation, manipulation, and more fear.
However, I walked away from this conference with HOPE, and I know for certain I was not the only one.
Our voices can and DO make a difference. Education makes a difference. Compassion makes a difference.
As I listened to the stories of the other advocates on the panel whose words for the day were: hopeful, resilient, connector, wavemaker, grassroots activist, renaissance woman, and embrace, I felt re-invigorated to keep pressing forward.
While being an advocate can certainly be in the grand wide-reaching movements; more often than not, it is found in the small, everyday moments. The conversations, the kind corrections, the non-judgmental curiosity offered instead of a harsh comeback.
Each one of us can be an advocate. Think of one small thing you can do today and commit to it in the comments. It is an honor to be on this journey with you!
Heather was a passionate and informed speaker on the topic of LGBTQ2S parenting. Heather shares her personal and professional experience through family storytelling and is able to connect to the audience in this candid way. Heather provided thoughtful and supportive feedback to parents’ questions and employees shared positive feedback after her informative session.
~Kallie Jackson, CN PRIDE ERG Co-Chair
Canadian National Railways
I am very happy to know that Heather is available to serve as a resource for parents of LGBTQ+ kids, and really to any parents at all. Everyone talks about being "inclusive", but Heather lives it. Heather is able to accept whatever comes her way and use the power of unconditional love and kindness to turn challenges into gifts. We can all learn a lot from Heather.
~Adam Simon, Executive Director
Odyssey Teen Camp
Heather was the calming voice in a world that was otherwise in upheaval. Heather was there to pick me up (although she didn't know it) and she was the best friend in my head helping me process and get through some difficult stuff. I loved that she gave ME permission to process and mourn my story now that it was being rewritten...Heather gave me the time I needed to get to the next step. Heather didn't judge me. I would download a podcast every morning and listen to ther during my walk. Her voice fixed it for me. Her voice soothed my heartache. Her voice helped me get to the next step of processing and her voice helped me move on. Heather helped me have difficult conversations that were based in kindness. She helped me to breathe. And I love her for that.
~Anonymous and thankful
I was searching for resources to be the best supportive mom I could be to my pre-teen (now teen) and found this amazing podcast! It was just what I needed! I knew I needed some guidance from a parent who had experience through a similar journey and Heather was there with perfect content and even talked with me personally through email. The community Heather has built through this podcast and Facebook page has given me the confidence to not be fearful through this journey but rather to embrace it and encourage my teen to be their authentic self!
~ Lauren Bo21
Heather is real, relatable, thoughtful, educated, and inclusive of every teen parent scenario in her talks. I love being able to hear first hand from someone who has gone through the “Valley of Darkness” and come out the other side a better person, informed, and able to help others right where they are.
Your centered, calming voice and demeanor help me to feel more peaceful. I experience you as therapeutic & your journey gives me more hope that we can love [our son] well. Thank you for giving your life away to me through sharing your story and the guests you interview.
I love your raw, real vulnerability. I am brand new on this journey and stumbled accidentally across your podcast on a road trip. I listened for 8 hours of driving and didn’t want to get to my destination because I wanted more. Using your own journey to help and support other parents is so brave and I am grateful to you and your family. Connor is so fortunate to have you ❤️
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