11 cities, thousands of hugs

Sara Cunningham (c) and the Free Mom Hugs Team walk in the OKC Pride Parade. Photo provided.

The overall rate of homelessness and suicide in the LGBT+ community is nearly 10 times the rate of the general population, according to the CDC.

Further estimates show that 25 percent of LGBT+ youth who come out in religious circles are immediately turned away by their families.

With that, who doesn’t need a Mom hug? For some, that hug can be the difference between life or death.

“Every time I’m out with the banner, I meet more youth and young adults who need reassurance that they are not alone, that there are people who love and support them,” said Sara Cunningham, founder of Free Mom Hugs and author of How We Sleep at Night.

“I also meet parents who need to be encouraged on their path of loving and accepting their LGBT+ kids. That’s the message we carry along with our banner.”

The Free Mom Hugs Tour has announced the 2018 cities they’ll visit on their second annual tour. They are Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kansas City, Des Moines, Laramie, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Santa Fe.

The tour will be May 4-19. Cunningham will take the Free Mom Hugs banner to these cities, stopping at the Matthew Shepard site in Laramie, Wyoming, on Mother’s Day.

Shepard was a 22-year-old gay student who attended a local university and, on October 6, 1998, was beaten, tortured and left for dead near Laramie. He died six days later on October 12.

“Thank you in advance for your support of this cause, and of love, dignity and acceptance for all people,” Cunningham said in closing.

To support the Free Mom Hugs Tour, visit www.gofundme.com and search Free Mom Hugs Tour 2018.

Free Mom Hugs is a non-profit group of Christian moms who attend LGBT+ events and offer mom hugs as a show of unconditional acceptance and love. They also provide resources and education for LGBT+ youth, as well as parents, family, faith leaders, education providers and more.

The Gayly. April 27, 2018. 9:36 p.m. CST.