DENVER — Heather Spillman has a child in the LGBTQ community and she's putting her heart into this specific community.
In an effort to help them know they are not alone and to help family and friends understand them – she collected a variety of personal stories from people about what it was like for them to come out to friends and family.
She published them in her book “Pride in the Voices.”
“I thought, well if I get the histories of a whole bunch of people and their personal stories it would give people coming out a place to not feel lonely, a tool to be used by a parent whose kid came out and wanted to give it to someone who wasn't accepting,” Spillman said.
Spillman was inspired to write the book after participating in the group Free Mom Hugs at local Pride events. The Colorado chapter of Free Mom Hugs describes the organization as a group of moms, friends and allies who support the LGBTQ+ community. They are known for wearing "Free Mom Hugs" shirts and hugging anyone who needs one at events.
“When you open yourself up to a loving and caring and open space, people tend to spill their guts,” Spillman said. “I would have people crying on my shoulder and telling me these awful stories about what their coming out experience was like, how lonely they felt, things like that.”
“I kept hearing the same things over and over and I thought, people need to have a space where they can look and see that they’re not alone.”
Spillman found participants for “Pride in the Voices” by reaching out through email. She heard back from 29 people – with ages ranging from people in their 20s to people in their 70s.
“These are not my stories to tell,” Spillman said. “I am not a member of the community. I’m an advocate and an ally to the community. I wanted to provide the space for people to be able to do this. That’s where my part comes in.”
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