Monday, September 21, 2009

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

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