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Sara Cunningham (she/her)

Sara Cunningham is an author, activist, and founder of the non-profit organization Free Mom Hugs. Her journey is a surprising one that began in conservative Oklahoma, when her son, Parker, came out as gay. As a woman of faith, Sara wrestled with the news until she began to study, research, and reconcile the two worlds. This journey resulted in her book How We Sleep at Night. She found herself on a journey “from the church to the Pride parade,” falling in love with the LGBTQIA+ community. In the wake of beautiful glitter-covered hugs and heart-breaking horror stories, the mission of Free Mom Hugs began. Simple acts of love and acceptance turned into a viral sensation, and Sara knew she had the opportunity to lead impactful change. 

Free Mom Hugs is now a movement across the country and the world. Sara goes Beyond the Hug to educate and advocate organizations of all types including schools and businesses striving for safe and protected spaces. She has appeared, many times with her son Parker, on the Today show and The RuPaul Show and spoke at the 2019 GLAAD Awards. She also has been featured in many national publications including The Washington Post, Woman’s Day magazine, and People magazine. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis bought the rights to Sara's book in 2019 and discussions have taken place about potentially developing a movie to share Sara's story. Jamie Lee continues to be a friend and supporter of the organization.  A documentary about the Mama Bears movement by award winning director Daresha Kyi also features Sara and the Free Mom Hugs movement. 

Sara’s passion is to change the perspective of the outside world toward this beautiful part of our community so that we as a society, not only learn to affirm, but more importantly, celebrate. Her goal is to help parents and children have authentic relationships and understanding for each other using her own experience and education as a guide. Sara is passionate about connecting with faith, civic, and business leaders in efforts to make the world a kinder, safer place for our LGBTQIA+ family. She is gifted at inspiring others to join her in this movement that is sweeping the nation and the world.