Unsplash | Toni Reed

Parents Are Giving 'Free Mom And Dad Hugs' At Pride Parades To Those Who Need Them

While Pride Month celebrates diversity, it can also be a painful time for members of the LGBTQ+ community to acknowledge their strained relationships with friends and family.

That's why one organization is trying to change all that one hug at a time. Free Mom Hugs is an initiative that wants to remind LGBTQ+ youth that they are loved.

Take a look at this inspiring movement.

The Free Mom Hug movement was started by Sara Cunningham who went viral for giving "mom hugs" to LGBTQ+ youth at Pride parades.

Many LGBTQ+ youth struggle with parental relationships, and some have even been disowned or kicked out of their homes.

"Enough is enough."

Instagram | @freemomhugs

"Call me. I'm there. I'll be your biggest fan. I'll even bring the bubbles," she said in her hugely viral post.

"If I don’t fight for my son (and his rights) like my hair is on fire, then who will?"

Instagram | @freemomhugs

"It’s time we celebrate our LGBTQ+ children. And I won’t stop until I no longer hear horror stories from the LGBTQ+ community and their mothers."

Sara also famously offered to be a "stand-in mom" at any LGBTQ+ weddings where the biological mom won't be present.

"Call me. I'm there. I'll be your biggest fan. I'll even bring the bubbles," she said in her hugely viral post.

Sara's own journey began when her son came out to her at age 21.

Instagram | @freemomhugs

Sara recalled the moment he told her to CBS News, "'Mom, I met someone and I need you to be okay with it,'" and she admits that at first it was hard for her to be "okay" with it.

"I was under this impression it was the ultimate offense."

Instagram | @freemomhugs

"I'm a woman of faith ... We live in a conservative town," Sara said. "It sound bad to say it, but I felt like I had to chose between my child and faith."

Sara attended her first Pride parade in 2014.

Instagram | @ freemomhugs

"We stood with our son at a pride parade in Oklahoma City. It was my first interaction with the community that I was so alienated from by my own ignorance and my own fear," Sara said. "I realized this was a beautiful community."

Sara returned to Pride the next year wearing a 'Free Mom Hugs' button.

Instagram | @freemomhugs

"Anyone who made eye contact with me, I'd say, 'Can I offer you a free mom hug or high five?' And I went home with glitter all over me," Sara said. She was inspired by some of the stories she heard there to create her own movement.

"I heard horror stories that would haunt me," she said.

Now, Free Mom Hugs has chapters across the country and volunteers are offering up hugs at Pride parades happening in their local communities.

Instagram | @jenhatmaker

Churches and other community organizations are setting up and giving away hugs to anyone who needs them along the parade route.

For the recipients of these hugs, this simple gesture can mean the world.

Instagram | @freemomhugs

"'I miss this,' 'My mom doesn’t love me anymore,' 'My Dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years,' 'Please just one more hug,'" are just some of the things that have been said to volunteer and blogger Jen Hatmaker when she gave away free hugs.

Dads are getting in on this movement, too!

Instagram | @jenhatchmaker

Mom hugs, Dad hugs, Pastor hugs... any and all hugs are welcome. This simple gesture is helping to spread the love and show support for the LGBTQ+ community. What a great idea!

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