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Mom Offers Kids Who Were Rejected By Their Parents Free Hugs At Pride Parade

Photo: @jenhatmaker / Instagram 
Pride event, free hugs

Sometimes, all you need is a hug. One woman knows this better than anyone and has dedicated her life to offering free hugs to those who most need them, and assuring them that they are “impossibly loved, needed, and precious,” at Pride events. 

It is no secret that those in the LGBTQ+ community are not always accepted by everyone, including their own families. About four in ten (39%) of those who are LBGTQ+ report that at some point in their lives they were rejected by a family member or close friend due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, per a survey conducted by Pew Research

For some, it has been a long time since they have felt the embrace of someone and felt truly loved. Thankfully, Jen Hatmaker and her team are more than happy to swoop in and pull in these people for a much-needed hug. 

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The woman gives out ‘free mom’ hugs at Pride Parades to those who have been rejected by their parents. 

In addition to being an author, blogger, and speaker, Jen Hatmaker is also said to be the best hugger. In August 2018, the mother of five attended the Austin Pride Parade in Texas with her Church group, where she offered countless hugs to those there, including those who were rejected by their families after they came out to them as LGBTQ+. 

Not only did Hatmaker give out free hugs, but she was also joined by fathers, grandparents, and pastors who all held their arms open to anyone who needed them. “And when I say hugs, I mean THE KIND A MAMA GIVES HER BELOVED CHILD,” Hatmaker wrote in an Instagram post, where she shared some heartwarming snaps from the day.

 Photo: Instagram 

“Our arms were never empty. We ‘happy hugged’ a ton of folks, but dozens of times, I’d spot someone in the parade look our way, squint at our shirts and posters, and RACE into our arms,” she continued. Hatmaker also had the chance to interact with those who hugged her, and some of their comments to her were both heartwarming and heartbreaking: “I miss this.”

“My mom doesn’t love me anymore.”

“My dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years.” 

“Please just one more hug.” 

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People were also overcome with emotion as they had the opportunity to receive a hug from the pastor of Hatmaker’s church since some of them had been rejected by their own churches due to their sexual orientation.

Photo: Instagram

“We told them over and over that they were impossibly loved and needed and precious,” Hatmaker wrote. “And we hugged them until our arms fell off. This is what we are doing here, this is what we are here for.” 

Hundreds of hugs later, Hatmaker ended the day covered in “glitter, sweat, and more than a few tears.” She gave a shoutout to the non-profit organization “Free Mom Hugs” which organized the event. 

 Photo: Instagram

Free Mom Hugs is an organization that offers support to the LGBTQ+ community through various initiatives. 

The organization was founded by Sara Cunningham, a Christian from Oklahoma who struggled for years to accept her son’s sexual orientation after he came out as gay to her. In order to better understand her son and spirituality, she became involved in the LBBTQ+ community, where she developed an entirely new perception of them. 

In 2015, Cunningham attended a Pride parade in Oklahoma City, wearing a button that read “Free Mom Hugs,” offering anyone who made eye contact with her a hug. The first hug she gave was to a girl who whispered in her ear, “It’s been four years since I got a hug from my mom because I’m a lesbian.” Cunningham has offered hundreds of hugs since then. 

Today, Free Mom Hugs has over 14,000 volunteers and has chapters across all 50 states. The organization aims to uplift those part of the LGBTQ+ community through public speaking events, peaceful demonstrations, providing resources, and attending Pride events in support of the community. 

And you don’t have to be a Mom to give out free hugs! “Though we’re known as Free Mom Hugs, we welcome dads, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and friends to be part of this movement of inclusion fueled by love,” their website reads. “Our goal is to change the world simply by showing up.” 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.