Free Mom Hugs is a group of moms who give out free hugs to LGBTQ+ youth who’ve been rejected by their families. Now that COVID-19 has made it impossible for the group to fulfill that part of their mission, they’re switching gears to virtually help young queer and trans people who are stuck at home with unsupportive families.
Founder Sara Cunningham founded Free Mom Hugs after her son came out as gay in 2011. The group travels around the United States hugging LGBTQ+ youth, and Cunningham has even offered to serve as a stand-in mom at same-sex weddings for anyone who needs one.
Cunningham told PinkNews that she was able to adapt quickly to the coronavirus pandemic, which obviously prevents the moms in her group from traveling or hugging anyone.
“The plug was pulled on what felt like everything,” Cunningham said.
“We knew we had to step up and rally the troops. While we are a non-profit based on physical touch, our mission statement was left unaltered.”
Indeed, countless queer and trans youth are trapped at home with unaccepting families in lockdown. That makes the Free Mom Hugs message more important than ever.
Their new mission: “Beyond the Hug.” The non-profit shifted to focus on helping confused parents learn about their LGBTQ+ children’s sexuality and running online events for LGBTQ+ youth, including a Virtual Pride weekend.
“It has become vital to us that we shift our focus to making sure the LGBT+ community that may already feel alone, literally and figuratively, be reassured that we, as chosen family, are not going anywhere,” Cunningham said.
“They may be at home with non-affirming, rejecting parents, and we want them to know we are here for them, supporting them and celebrating them.”
As always, the group offers a source of unconditional love and support to young people who may not be able to access that in their own families.