Mom Hugs Tour travels to Stonewall Inn

On May 1, the first ever “Free Mom Hugs Tour” will launch in Oklahoma City, making its way through 10 cities and wrapping up near the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City on Mother’s Day.

The purpose of the tour is to reassure LGBTQ children, youth and young adults that they are valued and loved and to raise awareness of their dignity and worth.

The Free Mom Hugs Tour is the brainchild of two mothers of LGBTQ children: Sara Cunningham of Oklahoma City and Laura Beth Taylor of Dayton, Tenn. Cunningham, the parent of a gay man and author of How We Sleep at Night, is a well-known advocate for participating in Pride events, carrying her “Free Mom Hugs” banner. When she reached out to Taylor, a transwoman who is the parent of LGBTQ children and author of Shattering Masks, the plan took shape.

“This isn’t a march; we’re not setting out to protest something, but rather to attest that all people – regardless of the margins in which they find themselves – are deserving of love, dignity and compassion,” Taylor explains. “Our goal is to express that in each city we visit as we encourage others to do so, too. It’s a simple exercise of loving our neighbors,” she adds.

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

The event will include a luncheon for civic and faith leaders in each community along the Tour, followed by carrying the Free Mom Hugs banner through an area. Cities on the Tour: Begins in Oklahoma City on May 1st and continues with; May 2, Tulsa; May 4, Kansas City, Mo.; May 5, St. Louis; May 6, Indianapolis, Ind.; May 8, Cincinnati, Ohio; May 9, Columbus, Ohio; May 11, Pittsburgh, Pa.; and May 13, Philadelphia, Pa.

The Tour culminates in New York City on May 14, which is Mother’s Day, near the historic Stonewall Inn, considered by many to be the birthplace of the LGBTQ equality movement. Subsequent annual Tours will conclude on Mother’s Day at other landmarks significant in the history of the LGBTQ equality movement.

The overall rate of homelessness and suicide in the LGBTQ community is nearly 10 times the rate of the general population, according to the CDC. Furthermore, it is estimated that 25 percent of LGBTQ youth who come out in religious circles are immediately turned away by their families.

The Free Mom Hugs Tour will demonstrate what love and support can look like and educate community leaders about the unnecessary risks LGBTQ children, youth and young adults face on a daily basis.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly - 4/18/2017 @ 6:48 a.m.