“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!
LOVE THIS PODCAST!! 🙌🏼🌈
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, Apple Podcast
I have loved and admired you and your family for over 30 years now. But the honor I have always felt to call you a friend truly quadrupled yesterday after listening to your podcasts. Every word was true and authentic, and real, and beautiful-even those that made me cry to the point where I had to pause for a bit before continuing.
I know the last few years have been pure hell. Yet somehow you, Steve, and your kids somehow managed to navigate it with grace, dignity, love, vulnerability, and acceptance. I am in awe of each of you...you are showing the world how beautiful life can be if we find a way to embrace it and breathe. Thanks to all of you for sharing your story and resources-it WILL make a difference for so many others.
~ S. Geidner
When I was Connor's age, I don't think Ellen DeGeneres was out yet. The world has changed so much since that time. I'm glad I'm alive to see it. I find myself cheering on parents like Heather who are willing to step out of their own comfort zone and reputations to stand by LGBTQ children and love us - out loud! This is such an important show [the podcast]. BIG LOVE for this courageous family in the Midwest! Yay YOU!
~ J. SluMac
Powerful, profound, so needed... What a breath of fresh air this show [the podcast] is. So many LGBTQ people, especially youth, struggle with the devastating impact of faith-based family rejection. Parents are searching for a better way. A way to love their LGBTQ child without compromising their faith. It takes opening what box you have God in - thank you for helping people do that! What a gift this podcast is!
~ R. Cottrell
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 ❤️
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.
This podcast will help you feel safe - calm and loving
This podcast is truly something everyone needs in the coming out journey. Listen in for a reassuring dose of Heather's loving expertise!
~ CandyMot, Apple Podcasts
This podcast was unbelievably helpful. The frank discussion and honesty -completely helped me begin my journey with my son and I have shared this podcast with everyone in our family Truly look forward to more episodes.
~ Blueflip via Podchaser
Amazing!!! This is so incredibly well done and your thoughtful approach is undoubtedly helping tons of families. What you’re doing truly matters! Your son is lucky to have you and vice versa ;)! Thank you for sharing w us!
~ NickPe13, Apple Podcasts
Helped so much!! I have learned so much and feel so much less alone after listening! Thanks so much!!
~ TSwynacht, Apple Podcasts
Must-Listen! This podcast is a must-listen for those wanting to learn how to best help the LGBTQ teen or young adult in their life. Heather is a thoughtful host who offers great information and support. Such a great podcast with great information!
~ DrMMcNally, Apple Podcasts
Thank you. Exactly what this momma needed.
~ zbkai189, Apple Podcasts
Right on ... so needed. 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.
~ MrsWeiselNMS, Apple Podcast
Eager to get into this. Thank you for clarifying that it's not just for parents. I think anyone involved in raising a child even if that's just part of an extended support community should have access to these resources.
~ Cameron Jones, Castbox
Attn Parents! Listen, absorb, learn, and breathe thru this podcast. So helpful us (child and parents) as we go thru this journey together.
~ Mom or them!, Apple Podcasts
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