OKLAHOMA CITY—When Sara Cunningham pinned a “Free Mom Hugs” button on her sundress before Oklahoma City Pride in 2016, she had no way of knowing she was writing a mission statement for mothers of gay kids everywhere or giving birth to a movement of acceptance. It never crossed her mind that Jamie Lee Curtis one day would offer to direct and star in a movie about her life. That day, Sara Cunningham was just there to support her son, Parker.
Now, Sara Cunningham is the founder of Free Mom Hugs, a nonprofit organization with chapters in all fifty states, and she and Parker are embarking on a tour across the South to kick off Pride month and support 2SLGBTQIA+ people in their continued fight for visibility and equality. The fifth annual Free Mom Hugs Tour will begin in the Cunninghams’ hometown of Oklahoma City before stopping in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The tour will conclude in Orlando, including attending Gay Days at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Thursday June 2. Sara and Parker also will attend Orlando’s Rainbow Run, which passes through the memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. The theme of this year’s ride is “Don’t Hide Your Pride,” which is a response to Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” bill and others of its kind being considered across the country.
“This is for our allies and the community alike, as our voices are more important than ever in this political climate where our LGBTQ+ children are having laws created against their health and well-being,” Sara says. “It’s time for the world we live in to reflect what 75 percent of Americans want: Equality for all.”
The agenda at each tour stop will vary. Sara and her son Parker will be having meet and greet events, sharing the Free Mom Hugs story, volunteering their services at LGBTQ+ youth homeless shelters, empowering brunches with chapter leaders and volunteers, speaking engagements at local, affirming churches and attending fundraisers for local LGBTQ+ non-profits. Free Mom Hugs also will partner with the Human Rights Campaign throughout the Tour to offer training sessions to help volunteers advocate more effectively for their families.
“It’s time for our allies to let their families, neighbors, colleagues, and places of worship know you not only love, support, and celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, but that you demand equal protections for our gay, bi, queer, and transgender friends and family,” Sara says. “And we want to support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in finding and using their voices to share their stories with anyone who will listen.”
Free Mom Hugs is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its mission statement is to empower the world to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community through visibility, education, and conversation. More information is available at https://freemomhugs.org.