Wilmette, Community

Wilmette resident’s book breaks barriers for parents of LGBTQ+ children

“‘I’m gay.’ A huge exhale. ‘Thank God,’ I exclaimed. ‘I thought you were dead!’”

Wilmette author Heather Hester’s retelling of her son’s coming out story is just one compelling moment in her new book “Parenting with Pride: Unlearn Bias and Embrace, Empower, and Love Your LGBTQ+ Teen.”

Parenting is an ever-changing landscape, but in her book, Hester ties together her family’s stories to help create a community for parents of LGBTQ+ children.

“Parenting with Pride” guides parents and caregivers of LGBTQ+ children toward providing their children with the utmost support. Hester said she based her book on four pillars: embrace, educate, empower and love, all of which she built on research and the story of her son, Connor.

At 16, Connor came out as gay. Heather recounts in the book that she and her husband, Steve, were blindsided. They then did everything they could to learn how to support their son, soon discovering all of the anxiety that Connor was carrying with the secret. 

Heather, Steve, Connor and the whole Hester family endured many scary and challenging moments as they embraced Connor’s identity. But the family also saw many beautiful breakthroughs and moments of understanding and support. 

Heather began to take notes while learning to navigate Connor and her family’s needs. She used her family’s journey to start her brand, Chrysalis Mama

“There aren’t the number of resources out there for people that there need to be,” Hester said. “We are not the only family going through this. There are millions of people out there. So, I’m going to create it.”

Through Chrysalis Mama, she provides a podcast, a digital course and one-on-one coaching. She compiled all of this experience and gathered information to create her book. 

Each chapter of “Parenting with Pride” starts with a quote and concludes with a section dedicated to journaling and reflecting. The four pillars guide readers through the coming-out process and the psychology behind it. The book includes chapters focused on challenging biases, adjusting family dynamics and self-love.

Hester’s first goal is to reach families like her own.

“I don’t want parents, people in general, people in the community, to feel like they are alone on this journey,” she said. “It is something, whether you are the parent or you are the person who is LGBTQ+, it can feel very isolating if you don’t have a community to talk to.”

Hester has also made the book welcoming to curious minds, equipping it with a glossary and additional resources for those looking to learn more.  

“The next layer is that it is for people who are curious,” she said. “I want this to be a conversation, begin a conversation or continue a conversation in a way that’s not combative, not filled with fear and hate.”

“Parenting with Pride: Unlearn Bias and Embrace, Empower, and Love Your LGBTQ+ Teen” is available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bookshop.org.

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