The courage to come out inspires Heather to support others in the LGBTIQ+ community. 

Heather had always known she was different.

After her husband’s passing in 2018, Heather later came out as gay to her friends and family. To her friends and family, nothing changed. She was still Heather, the avid reader and gamer, the woman with a soft spot for animals, the mom who raised her daughters to be fiercely independent.

At work, where she runs the maintenance repair and operations cribs in Schertz and San Antonio, Texas, she kept her personal life private.

“As a leader, I felt I needed to keep a certain presence,” she said. “I didn't want people to look at my personal life and think it has anything to do with my capability on the job.”

Heather joined Caterpillar Lambda, an ERG helping to create an inclusive environment for Caterpillar's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer employees, and their allies, working together to educate employees on the perspective and value of the LGBTIQ+ and ally community. Here, she came out to her ERG teammates for the first time. She found acceptance and support and slowly progressed, finding the courage to wear a shirt with the rainbow Caterpillar logo.

Choosing a shirt when getting dressed in the morning is a small decision for most people, but this was a massive step for her and has brought new connections.

“While wearing the shirt, I've had people come talk to me about their children or others they are close to who are part of the LGBTIQ+ community,” she said.

Now, Heather is open about her engagement with her fiancée, Ashley. And she is proud of Lambda’s work at Caterpillar, including Safe Space training and a focus on raising awareness for LGBTIQ+ rights.

“It all comes down to learning about and understanding people,” she said. “Everyone should be treated as an individual and for what their contributions are, not who they are in love with.”