Bridgette is one of leaders in Missouri and we are so delighted she is part of the team. I hope you enjoy learning about Bridgette as much as I did reading through this!
Tell us about your journey and how you came to a place of support for the LGBTQIA+ community.
I didn't meet any open members of the LGBTQIA+ community until I went to college and helped with the theatre program. I also had two boyfriends from college who came out as gay. I was also living in Indiana when Ryan White died. I wrote the first standards for the local YWCA for dealing with HIV+ kids without cruelty. My dad also taught me that all people need to be valued. Put that into a bowl and mix it and you have someone who is supportive.
If you have an LGBTQIA+ child, your “reason”, tell us about them, him, or her.
In their high school junior day, they came out and said they were transgender. I'll admit that I didn't handle it well, but it just didn't fit that they were transgender. As they explored more, they also realized they were asexual, agender, aromantic. That made more sense to me. They now have a datemate and are identifying more as lesbian. They have many health struggles and I worry about the future.
Four Christmas Eves ago, I received a phone call about a foster kid who identifies as a transgender female, had aged out of the foster care system and had been kicked off the sofa she had been surfing on. We kept her for three years until she felt ready to be on her own in an apartment.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your “reason” for getting involved in advocacy work?
I live in Kansas and currently attend a non affirming church. They need to know that they are valued and I need to change the attitudes of both the state and church.
What makes you proud to be their mama?
They are very caring and have their own way of doing things. They have ten medical conditions but still love life.
When did you first hear about Free Mom Hugs and what motivated you to get involved as a volunteer for the organization?
I didn't hear of the organization at first but I was just planning to wear the FMH shirt to Pride. Then on facebook I saw a meeting for the Kansas City area and I decided to attend. There weren't many volunteers there at the time. As a kid my dad would volunteer to be a Girl Scout Leader and Girl's Baseball commissioner so I have always been familiar with organizations. I wanted to make sure we had this for both my child and my extra daughter. Missouri asked for my help so I became a Kansas based Missouri leader.
What excites you most about being involved with FMH?
Pride, helping Center for Inclusion and being there.
What brings you the most fear?
Westboro Baptist is located in Kansas but everyone knows they are a joke. Our church is non affirming as are the majority of churches around here. Olathe had a NASTY fight to pass an NDO. Listening to the lies the opponents told were sickening. I attended to support people who were hearing lies.
What brings you the most joy?
The smile on kid's faces at PRIDE.
Tell us about some of the exciting things the chapter in your state is working on.
We have been thinking of having "Coffee with mom" and just trying to be there during non pride times. "Free Mom Hugs wants to be there for more than Pride. We want to walk beside you everyday. By the way, Mom is non gender or age specific."
Is there anything else we need to know about you and what makes you, you?
I'm a teacher of kids with Emotional and Behavioral Issues. I’ve been married for 25 years and 50 anniversaries.
If you want to get involved with the Missouri chapter or any of our many states email [email protected]