Having part of our virtual tour being in North Carolina has really allowed us the opportunity to talk about the leaders that make Free Mom Hugs a reality. Tracy Edmondson is part of our incredible North Carolina team along with Diana and Janene.

They are doing incredible work in North Carolina and I am so happy you all are going to get to know Tracy a little better.

Tell us about your journey and how you came to a place of support for the LGBTQIA+ community.

My child CJ came out to us when they were 12 years old. You know how many people say that a mom knows? I didn’t know but my husband guessed. And we were immediately supportive. We both have gay friends and relatives so it wasn’t foreign to us. And we’ve always supported the LGBTQIA+ community. But we were still worried about the world accepting our child. We continue to worry about CJ’s safety.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your “reason” for getting involved in advocacy work?

The first thing that comes to mind for me is the safety for individuals and equality. For me, those two things come first. Our child was jumped in middle school by a group of boys, so this has always been on my mind. The next thing that comes to mind is providing support through contact and listening to people’s stories to affirm their individual history. That is the reason I started volunteering with FMH. I love our mission to hug, spread love and listen.

What makes you proud to be their mama?

My child is a mechanical genius. They can take things apart and put them back together that I have no idea about. But I’m most proud of how brave my child is. They were in therapy for feelings of self harm for about 3 years before coming out. I think every day is a battle for them. I’m so proud they have the courage to keep going.

When did you first hear about Free Mom Hugs and what motivated you to get involved as a volunteer for the organization?

A friend of mine showed up wearing a FMH t-shirt and I asked her, “where did you get that? I need it!” I joined the Facebook page and began volunteering. Heather and Julie were looking for a lead in Charlotte and approached me about getting more involved. I jumped at the opportunity.

What excites you most about being involved with FMH?

The people I meet. We are all so different but connected by the promise of a better world for the LGBTQIA+ community.

What brings you the most fear?

Ugh. The most fear? That my child will endure pain, ostracism and hate. Our family has never questioned our love and support for our child but the rest of the world is another story. Sometimes I want to hole up and sequester my family of 6 to protect them from the world (I guess I got my wish with quarantine!) But I know my kids have so much to offer the world and to deny any of them the opportunity to do that is just silly.

What brings you the most joy?

Spending time with my family. Listening to CJ talk about the car they are restoring and their plans for the future, taking walks with my daughters and  lifting weights with my son. I love to hear their take on the world and how they’re going to make it better.

Tell us about some of the exciting things the chapter in your state is working on.

Right now we are gearing up for Pride season and the possibility that it may get postponed, moved online or cancelled. We are creating safe places for our volunteers to share not just things relating to FMH, but their concerns about COVID and the loneliness of quarantine. We are zooming and creating souvenirs for Pride. Keeping everyone connected is a full time job!

Is there anything else we need to know about you and what makes you, you?

I wouldn’t be here without the support of my husband. I am so grateful that I have a partner who sees the world with the same open arms that I do. He is a rainbow-skirted dervish at Pride events. He has a huge heart, loves to hug and will talk to ANYONE. :)

You can help Tracy, Diana and Janene continue their work in North Carolina by donating directly to their chapter. I know they will use donations wisely to help spread the Free Mom Hugs mission even further!