The Free Mom Hugs Story
Free Mom Hugs was founded by Sara Cunningham, a Christian mother in conservative Oklahoma, who spent years rejecting her son Parker's sexuality, after he came out to her. Conflicted by her love for her son and her spirituality, Sara exhaustively searched faith and sexuality for answers. What she learned would transform her journey from the church to the pride parade.
As Sara became involved in the LGBTQIA+ community, the hurt, shame and injustice they frequently experience was painfully clear. Remembering that she too was once in the crowd that rejected this loving, vibrant community, Sara took action.
On Saturday, June 20, 2015, Sara wore a homemade button with the words “Free Mom Hugs” to the Oklahoma City Pride Festival. She offered hugs to anyone who made eye contact. The first hug Sara gave was to a beautiful girl who whispered, “It’s been four years since I got a hug from my mom because I’m a lesbian.” Sara embraced her and hundreds more that day, and many shared similar stories with every embrace.
That day Free Mom Hugs — a nationwide movement of love, visibility and acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community — was born.
In 2018, Sara created a Facebook post that instantly went viral: “PSA: If you need a mom to attend your same-sex wedding because your biological mom won’t, call me. I’m there. I’ll be your biggest fan. I’ll even bring the bubbles.” The shockwaves of the post catapulted Sara and Parker’s story into the national spotlight. Shortly after, the movement took another leap forward when Free Mom Hugs was established as a national nonprofit.
Today, Free Mom Hugs has chapters in all 50 states and other initiatives forming globally. The group’s growing force of more than 14,000 volunteers is a national groundswell dedicated to empowering the world to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community through visibility, conversation and education.
Every day we hear stories of transformation, hope, acceptance and love. While everyone’s life and journey are unique and no two “coming outs” are the same, every story can bring hope to others.
Allies are essential to the Free Mom Hugs mission and to helping members of LGBTQIA+ communities feel welcome and affirmed where they live. Advocating for and encouraging members of local LGBTQIA+ communities shows the world that everyone belongs and matters.
Make the world more welcoming for the LGBTQIA+ community. Connect with the Free Mom Hugs movement in your state.