Monday, September 21, 2009

Wagners visit River Falls United Methodist Church

Sunday was a wonderful day in River Falls, WI. We (Paul, Brad & Hjordy) started our day at the United Methodist Church where our former pastor, Janet Ellinger, inspired us with her prayers and words of wisdom. This was followed by a luncheon and our story in the context of a welcoming church. We estimate the crowd at around 50 or more. Paul and I hope we were able to inspire new thinking. We learn from our audience every time we give a presentation. Yesterday was no exception. One of the ideas shared was when and how to be a vocal advocate. For example, is it the right place to say something to someone when you overhear an inappropriate remark about a minority in a restaurant setting? We had some great suggestions on that topic alone. What do you think?

Church members at River Falls showed courage in opening their hearts and minds to the topic of GLBTs in the church setting. We hold a special place in our hearts for Rev. Ellinger and now we know how special her congregation members are.

Media Porfessional Review - Wagner's book is a model

Review for Wagner, Paul and Hjordy (2009). Ready or not...they're gay:
stories from a Midwestern family.

Hjordy and Paul Wagner have given us a book for those times when there really is only one chance to listen closely and then to do the right thing.

Their sons, Brad and Andrew, are both gay. In a very personal, intimate collection of stories, the Wagners describe their own memories and reactions to each son's "coming out," relate how they shared the news with their family and friends, and inspire us with accounts of each son's success and happiness in life. Brad and Andrew each share their own stories of being gay and coming out as well. Though the process was certainly difficult for all of the Wagners, it's easy to see how Brad and Andrew could become the healthy, happy, well-adapted men they are now. Hjordy and Paul are simply among the world's best parents, who have given their children the confidence and security that comes from unconditional love.

The Wagners' book is a model in many ways. It's a model for kids who think they may be gay but need more information. It's a model for kids and families who are going through the coming out process. It's a model that prepares us for the times when we have only once chance to do the right thing. But more than anything else, it's a model for families who, no matter what the life-changing news may be, need to find a way to just love one another and act like the generous-hearted, non-judgmental, supportive people we all hope to be.

Reviewed by Gyneth Slygh, Ph.D.,University Program Coordinator of Library Media Education

Educator Review - Book Capable of Changing Attitudes

Ready or Not…They’re Gay is one couple’s journey of acceptance upon learning not one, but both of their sons are gay. Paul and Hjordy Wagner share their story through succinct recollections and reflections; provide an eclectic collection of tips, checklists, and advice for parents, friends, and educators; and invite others to share their stories. Writing with authentic voices and clear prose, the Wagners demonstrate deep love and respect for their sons and reach out to others struggling to understand gay family members. The result is an easy-to-read and insightful book that demystifies gayness. Ready or Not…They’re Gay is a powerful book capable of changing attitudes and a mustread for everyone seeking to better understand what it means to be gay. Appropriate for readers age 13 and older, Ready or Not…They’re Gay would be a valuable addition to most library collections.

Arlene Radtke is a retired Eau Claire Area School District reading specialist and a regular reviewer for SIGNAL Journal, Journal of the International Reading Association’s Special Interest Group on Literature for the Adolescent Reader

Shine-A-Light Nomination

Business Name: PH Wagner LLC

Business City: Eau Clarie

Business State: WI

Business Website:

Type of Business: Other

On my commute to work this morning, I noticed a banner which read, “Be careful who you hate…it could be someone you love.” The phrase is often used by the PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) organization. The phrase runs deep, challenging its reader to engage in self-reflection. In an effort to help my own family members come to terms with my recent announcement of telling them I am gay, I set out looking for a book to share with them. That was no easy task! It had to be something lenient yet straightforward, educational yet not too preachy, and most importantly, it had to convey empathy. By happenstance, I stumbled upon the collaborative work of Hjordy and Paul Wagner expressed in their book entitled: Ready or Not; They’re Gay: Stories from a Midwestern Family. The book was completely mesmerizing and surpassed all my expectations. It is very well-written. The reader is instantly drawn into this family of four in which you learn that both of the Wagner’s sons, Brad and Andrew, are gay. The pages progress thoughtfully from the family background to the coming out of their sons, through the process of initial shock to complete acceptance with helpful hints and education interspersed throughout. An unexpected surprise for me was that I was able to identify with Brad and Andrew on so many levels which validated many of my own experiences as normal. As stated in the book’s Preface, Hjordy and Paul’s mission is to better equip parents, relatives, and friends of GLBT persons to cope when they find out someone they care about is gay – a mission of love they hope will improve the relationships and lives of families and friends. This mission is reflected in and shared by their boys, and goes far beyond the book itself. Education is paramount and is a natural extension of their careers in public education held before their respective retirements in the field. In addition to a busy schedule traveling to various cities and making appearances in different venues sharing their inspiring story, the Wagner’s have made a concerted effort to connect on a personal level. They utilize Skype for their virtual book tour and live presentations to facilitate meaningful dialogue wherever they are needed, whether it is in someone’s home, a church, a school or university, or business setting. Plans are underway for a follow-up book consisting of contributed stories from the GLBT community and their families about their coming-out experiences. Moreover, Paul and Hjordy are constantly looking for new and different ways to connect and share their story in an effort to be most effective and helpful to others. I am one of many who have been inspired by the selflessness, empathy, and genuine care and concern displayed by the entire Wagner family. So that many others may share in this inspiration, and that their mission may be expanded and enhanced, I respectfully nominate PH Wagner LLC for the SHINEALIGHT award. Meet the Wagner’s:

Nominated by: jjcrist