I’m Erin McKennah – Ritter, mom of 2 kids, 13 and 9, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and I am still here. I am approaching the end of my graduate program and – fingers crossed – I will be a licensed clinical mental health counselor soon!
Becoming Fully Affirming
Someone being LGBTQIA+ was never something that was an issue while I was growing up. I had friends who were gay and that was that – not an issue. It wasn’t until I found faith that I began to judge and doubt my acceptance of the communities. I tried to justify my beliefs towards my LGBTQIA+ friends by comparing their sex before marriage to heterosexual sex before marriage, in that it was all a sin – I don’t believe that anymore.
A few years ago, when the evangelical church began to use bible verses to harm immigrants, I began to question my faith. I have since left the church and consider myself an evangelical, and now fully affirm my LGBTQIA+ friends and family and I am still questioning my faith. I started to become active and more outspoken about my support for the LGBTQIA+ communities when I started grad school about three years ago. I plan to serve the communities as a mental health therapist once I graduate.
Joining the Free Mom Hugs Family
I first heard about Free Mom Hugs when Jen Hatmaker posted about her experience at a pride event and how hugging people and coming home covered in glitter filled her with so much joy. I reached out to Free Mom Hugs national to inquire about volunteer opportunities in my state, but we didn’t have state chapters at that time. About 9 months later I discovered Free Mom Hugs – Georgia and got involved at the state level.
I was new to leadership when someone posted in our leader’s online group that they had an extra ticket and bed for the Wild Goose Festival. 2019 was my year of yeses so I jumped at the opportunity to go to North Carolina in July to meet some fellow Free Mom Huggers. Little did I know that I would be bunking up with Sara Cunningham, Liz Dyer, Robin Parker, and Heather Robinson!
At the end of our weekend, Heather claimed out loud that we would be asked to join the board and when applications were being accepted that fall I applied – never imagining that I would be asked to join. Not only did I get asked to join the board, but I also have the pleasure of leading the Chapter Committee which means that I get to walk alongside all of our state leaders. We would love to have you join us and all of our amazing volunteers in our state chapters.
In October 2019, our state chapter had the privilege of helping plan a surprise engagement at Atlanta Pride. While being a part of Free Mom Hugs brings me joy daily, this was a mountain top experience.
A young woman reached out to us to ask if we could help her propose to her girlfriend. We said yes immediately and so began our plan. One of the coolest things about this is that I went to high school with the mom of the woman who proposed! You can watch the exciting proposal here.
Tell us something unique about yourself:
When I was in my 20’s I went to court to legally change my last name to a name that I made up with the help of my maternal grandfather, McKennah is that name ☺.