Leader Spotlight: Carol Keen

Our Arkansas team is small, but mighty! They have worked so hard over the last year to find great leaders and have done a lot of work to bring awareness to Free Mom Hugs. We are so delighted to have Carol be a part of our leadership team and I know that we are better with her amongst our leaders.

Tell us about your journey and how you came to a place of support for the LGBTQIA+ community.

In 2015 my nephew came out as being gay and to this day the only people who talk to him are myself, my husband and my niece. In 2017, my niece from a different side of family came out Pansexual and myself and a few other family members still talk to her. In 2018, someone very close to me came out as transgender but they are not able to come out yet because of certain situations. I reached out to a close friend who has a gay son for guidance and she introduced me to Free Mom Hugs.

When did you first hear about Free Mom Hugs and what motivated you to get involved as a volunteer for the organization?

I got involved to show support to my family, friends and even total strangers. And until I got involved with FMH, I never knew how many people didn’t have support.

I contacted our local chapter of Free Mom Hugs here in Arkansas and joined in May 2019. My first Pride parade was NWA PRIDE in June and it was the biggest one to date with close to 25,000 people. Some of the stories I’ve heard have brought me to tears. In December 2019, our state leader stepped down and myself and 2 other mom’s stepped up to co-lead Free Mom Hugs Arkansas.

What excites you most about being involved with FMH?

I want to try and get information to people that were raised to think that the LGBTQIA+ are sinners and horrible people. I want to encourage them and show that it’s not wrong or a sin.

What brings you the most fear?

I see people in this community being murdered or disappearing at alarming rates. I DON’T want to lose those that I love!

What brings you the most joy?

The smiles, the thank yous and the absolute joy of giving a hug to someone who’s been tossed away by their own family. Human beings crave being touched and if I can provide that for even for a brief moment…….I’ve done my job.

Tell us about some of the exciting things the chapter in your state is working on.

Our chapter is reaching out to local schools, churches and local clubs to hopefully join forces to get more general community involvement with the LGBTQIA+ community in our state.

Is there anything else we need to know about you and what makes you, you?

I am a 48 yr old mom of three, Gammie of 1 and I have a spouse and father with Alzheimer’s. I have purple hair and think glitter SHOULD be on EVERYTHING!! I want a hippopotamus, but I will settle for my 3 dogs, 1 cat and my donkey.

Our Arkansas chapter has been one of our biggest fundraisers, but they are still short their $5,000 goal. Every dollar helps and if you donate it goes directly to the Arkansas team. Donate today and help Arkansas reach their goals!

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