We can’t believe it’s that time of year again already! We have had an amazing year at Free Mom Hugs and we are thrilled to keep the momentum going for 2023. But we need your help! Giving Tuesday is a wonderful opportunity for you to join us as we make the world a kinder, safer place for our LGBTQIA+ families. This year, we have been blessed with a Matching Donor who will match your dollar for dollar amount up to $10,000!

As a gift for your continued support, this year we have Special Edition “Proud Supporter” T-shirts for any donation of $50 or more!

Founder Sara Cunningham sporting the Special Edition
Proud Supporter T-shirt!

It has been a tumultuous year as we continued to fight for the rights and freedoms of our LGBTQIA+ kids. So many policies have been crafted against their very existence, but our Free Mom Hugs volunteers were up for the challenge. The attacks on their children only made them fight harder and invest their passions in the mission of Free Mom Hugs to create visibility, education and conversations.

This year, thanks to supporters like you, we engaged in more activities than ever before. Our state chapters volunteers were able to attend over 500 events across the country. From Pride Festivals to Drag Queen Story Hours, college days to sporting events, demonstrations to corporate diversity trainings, our leaders know the power of showing up and being a loving presence.

With over 10,000 new registered volunteers this year, our volunteer base continues to grow. We continue to equip more allies with the resources to make lasting change in their local communities.

Founder Sara Cunningham continues to be a visible spokesperson for the organization and shared the FMH story with people from all walks of life this year. She represented LGBTQ+ equality across the country and was the face of all supportive parents who stand in the gap for their own children and those in the community who have been rejected by people who should be celebrating them.

Sara and her son Parker were able to make the Don’t Hide Your Pride Tour a tremendous success in the world of equality and representation. They traveled cross country, in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, to bring awareness to dangerous laws and provide education on how to get involved in the policies that affect LGBTQIA+ children. They were also able to celebrate the completion of the long awaited Mama Bears Doc which made its debut this year. The documentary highlights several amazing families who have journeyed from their faith experience to becoming invested, passionate Mama Bears. This film has already changed so many hearts and minds, and is a priceless resource for those vulnerable conversations that create true and lasting change.

On the heels of a fabulous year, we have high hopes and goals for 2023. We are getting closer to establishing international chapters to truly take Free Mom Hugs around the world. We also want to continue to supply our chapter leaders with all the resources they need to expand their reach for equity for all. And of course, more college and high school visits, corporate collaborations, panel discussions, pride rides, care packages and most importantly MORE LOVE.

Will you join us this Giving Tuesday to help us set the stage for 2023 to be the best year yet in the life and mission of Free Mom Hugs? Donate today!

Let’s empower the world to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community through visibility, education and conversation…TOGETHER.

Guest Blogger

During the month of February, Free Mom Hugs will be celebrating LGBTQ+ love and all the ways we have been a part of those who are living and loving freely. Founder, Sara Cunningham went viral for offering to be a “stand in mom” for LGBTQ+ weddings for couples who may not have supportive family. She has also played a part in many love stories over the years helping families reconcile and heal their relationships. She has often been an officiant for weddings for couples who want to celebrate their love with a ceremony. In the past 6 years at Free Mom Hugs, we have seen love win time and time again. We have also inspired many others to be a become officiants, be a “stand in parent” and to pursue authentic love and companionship like we all deserve.

Every wedding Sara officiates, she gifts the couple with a rock from her own garden with a heart painted on it to remind them that
Love Wins.

Guest blogger Karrie Fletcher, Executive Director of Free Mom Hugs, has an incredible journey as someone who tried desperately to change her sexuality in order to align with her faith. But she finally found her own freedom as her authentic self and now helps others find comfort in their own truth. She has worked with Matthew Vines at the Reformation Project, Kathy Baldock at Canyonwalker Connections and the Human Rights Campaign, paving the way for others to love themselves and open the door to find long-lasting love. Karrie and her wife Mandy were married on a beach in October 2021 in front of family and friends in Key West, Florida. In our first blog of the month, Karrie shares about her journey with a close friend who went from conversion therapy to a wedding in New York City with Sara acting as a “stand in” mom.

Karrie and Mandy’s wedding day

In the spring of 2003, I was well on my way to becoming straight. Or so I thought. The previous year, I made the decision to start the journey to become straight after finding the “ex-gay” ministry Exodus International and their leaders who claimed they had “changed from gay to straight through their relationship with Jesus Christ.” I shared my testimony with the church I was attending and I had declared that God had changed me from gay to straight. I was applying to graduate school at a local seminary to prepare for what I believed to be a future helping others who wanted to change their sexuality too. I thought I had found it – freedom from homosexuality and my future in ministry. 

It was during this time that I met Hayley. Like me, Hayley had just gone through a hurtful and devastating breakup with her ex-girlfriend and she was looking for what she thought might be a better way. Hayley heard that I had “left the gay lifestyle” and wanted to talk to me about that journey. We talked on the phone and I shared my story about how I no longer considered myself gay. I told her about my negative experiences in relationships and how the leaders of the “ex-gay” movement were right – lesbian relationships were nothing but emotional dependicies. I encouraged her to attend an Exodus conference and learn what she could about “leaving the lifestyle.”  We both agreed that God must have something better for her.

The conversation with Hayley that day would turn out to be one of many we would have over the next 14 years as we both tried to change our sexuality. Over the years, we spent many hours talking through email, text, and messenger as we turned into modern day pen pals. We talked about our childhoods, God, relationships, and what we were learning along the way. We talked about hard things. We both understood each other in a way that no one else in our lives could understand. And we talked about the dream we both had of getting married one day to a godly man and having kids. But the journey was excruciatingly painful at times as we talked about the loneliness, isolation and ultimately the frustration we both felt as we tried to date men. Many years into our journey, we both admitted to each other that we were still attracted to women

When I came out as a gay Christian in 2016, I shared this news with Hayley. She was happy for me but couldn’t imagine being at peace in a relationship with a woman herself. She feared the rejection of God and her family and couldn’t bear the thought of disappointing them. We stayed in touch and Hayley eventually opened her heart to the idea that God could still love her even if she identified as gay.  

In May of 2019, I met my future wife Mandy at a meeting for The Reformation Project chapter in Dallas, Texas. That same month, Hayley went on a date with Amber who would become someone very special in her life as well. It was exciting for both of us as we encouraged each other through the start of our new dating relationships. Both of us had been single for nearly two decades!  

Karrie and Mandy Fletcher-Rollins

In a serendipitous turn of events, Hayley and I found ourselves in New York City at the end of last year. Hayley shared with me the incredible news that she and Amber were getting married in Central Park on December 30th. As it turned out, Free Mom Hugs was invited to New York City on behalf of Barefoot Wine to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Founder Sara Cunningham was asked to bring in the new year with a live toast on the main stage with Barefoot Bubbly and to share about the work of Free Mom Hugs.

Karrie, Sara and Mandy in Times Square New Years Eve 2022

When Sara found out about the wedding and that it would only include the officiant and photographer, she immediately offered to be a stand in mom. Things were coming together for what would become a full circle moment for mine and Hayley’s friendship after 18 years of singleness. 

Sara standing in for Haley and Amber in Central Park

On December 30, 2021 at 12:30pm, I stood in Central Park watching the person I had encouraged to go through conversation therapy all those years ago marry the love of her life. With my wife of 3 months standing by my side, I held their wedding rings as I reflected on the journey Hayley and I took together. The journey from a life of loneliness to a life of companionship. And you know what? LOVE. JUST. WON.  

Love Wins in Central Park