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These Disowned LGBT+ Community Members Are Finding Solace In “Free Mom Hugs” From Loving Church Members

Deciding to come out as LGBT+ to their family is one of the most difficult things a queer person can do. And when their parents and other family members struggle to accept their sexuality, it can become even harder for them to feel loved and supported. However, a lovely group of moms, dads, and church members have set out to change the narrative, armed only with much-needed hugs.

When Two Communities Clash

For several decades, there has been a rift between the LGBT+ community and religious groups. Many who are a part of the queer community who come from conservatively religious families often face the fear of backlash when coming out to their parents. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case. However, an open-minded Christian group is out to change the narrative. They’ve already begun to spread some incredible amounts of love and support!

Struggling To Embrace Her Son

Sara Cunningham is the woman behind a new movement of “mom hugs”, though she wasn’t always a crusader for LGBT+ rights. When her son first came out as gay, she struggled immensely to accept his sexuality. Considering she had been raised in a conservative and highly religious environment, she felt as if her child was contradicting her faith and that they could not co-exist. However, after months of doubt, her son transformed her mindset with a single statement.

Learning To Love The LGBT+ Community

One day, her son asked to talk to her and said, “I met someone and I need you to be okay with it.” Recognizing that her child’s happiness was more important than outdated values, Cunningham began to become more educated about the LGBT+ community. Eventually, she and her husband found it in their hearts to begin attending Pride events! However, Cunningham discovered an upsetting truth at these colorful and joyous celebrations.

Free Mom Hugs: Both Heartbreaking And Heartwarming

Many people who were attending Pride events had been rejected by their families. Cunningham decided to form an organization called Free Mom Hugs: a group dedicated to being “stand-in” parents to LGBT+ individuals who had been shunned by their parents. Many of the members are from her local church, and they took to Austin Pride this year to offer mom, dad, grandma, and pastor hugs to LGBT+ people who had been neglected by their families. And the responses to their hugs were more grateful than they ever could have anticipated.

Healing Through Hugs

After giving out hugs “like it was [their] paying job”, Cunningham and other members of Free Mom Hugs were showered with words of both heartbreak and thanks. “My dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years,” one person told them, while another simply asked for “one more hug.” “We told them…that they were impossibly loved and needed and precious,” another group member, Jen Hatmaker, reinforced. And for many at Austin Pride, those hugs were the perfect reminder.

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