Right before the COVID-19 pandemic entered the forefront of our minds, Free Mom Hugs and its 50 Chapters were ready at warp speed for what we thought would be the biggest and best Pride season we had experienced. We also were preparing for an historical, fourth Free Mom Hugs Tour with our sights set on Washington DC as our Mother’s Day destination. We have been referring to 2020 as the Tour of Victories: Celebrating the powerful women, mama bear activists, and allies who have brought so much victory to state laws protecting our LGBTQIA+ children already. Empowering them all to be active and vocal to assure victory for LGBTQIA+ rights in the 2020 upcoming election.
Going Beyond the Hug
We have used,Beyond the Hug, to describe our numerous programs outside of our hugging activities. Our non-profit is focused on education and advocacy, and we needed to have a way to express that work. Little did we know, Beyond the Hug, would become our battle cry during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Friday, March 13th hit and so did the brakes. Hard. The plug was pulled on all of our excitement and plans for 2020 for Free Mom Hugs. With disappointment and grief permeating our community, volunteers and chapters, we knew we had to step up and rally the troops. While we are a non-profit based on physical touch, our mission statement is unaltered…
“Free Mom Hugs empowers the world, to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community through visibility, education and conversation. And yes, we still give hugs.”
It became clear that we were needing to plan a Virtual Tour to not only bring everyone together, but keep everyone together during this unprecedented season of quarantine and shelter in place across the country. It has become vital to us that we make sure the LGBTQIA+ community, that may already feel alone, be reassured that we, as chosen family, are not going anywhere. They may be at home with non-affirming, rejecting parents, and we want them to know we are here, supporting and celebrating them. We also have been encouraging parents, to research and study during this time, so they can understand their LGBTQIA+ kids and create authentic relationships.
Free Mom Hugs Goes Virtual
We are so excited to have our Virtual Tour beginning on Mother’s Day, highlighting heroes and activists in our highlighted cities. We will showcase messages of hope and love for our LBGTQIA+ communities, and a safe place for parents with stories like Sara’s to be encouraged and empowered to share.
Our nightly program will be streamed on our website. You can visit now to register for daily reminders and become a part of this connecting experience.
In the mornings of each day, we will highlight one of our exceptional Chapter Leaders and present their story and reason for being involved with Free Mom Hugs. Each evening we will have an hour-long show that includes panel discussion with Sara Cunningham and her son Parker, video messages and performances from musicians who believe in the Free Mom Hugs movement. We are taking time each night to spotlight heroes from across the country who are making tremendous strides in creating a kinder, safer place for our LGBTQIA+ family and friends. Each evening will end with a fun, daily wrap-up/happy hour with Sara and Parker and a toast to our heroes and guests courtesy of our friends at Barefoot Wine and Bubbly.
We are out of our comfort zone, having to alter our tradition of an on location, physical tour, and are missing connecting with all of you in person. However, we are so excited to get to spend a week, every evening, sharing virtual space with you, until we can hug again.
We are all in this together, and need each other more than ever before. You can continue to be a part of the Free Mom Hugs movement by heading to our tour page and registering for the show, sharing our posts on social media and utilize our hashtag #fmhvirtualtour. You can support the movement and our programs by making a financial donation, if you are able, and most importantly, continuing to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community.