A Texas church recently offered “Free Mom Hugs” at a Pride parade in Austin, Texas, offering participants a taste of the love many of them no longer receive from their own families, usually because of their religious beliefs.
My beloved little church went downtown to the #AustinPrideParade and gave out Free Mom Hugs, Free Dad Hugs, Free Grana Hugs, and Free Pastor Hugs like it was our paying jobs. And when I say hugs, I mean THE KIND A MAMA GIVES HER BELOVED KID. . Our arms were never empty. We “happy hugged” a ton of folks, but dozens of times, I’d spot someone in the parade look our way, squint at our shirts and posters, and RACE into our arms. These were the dear hearts who said: . “I miss this.” “My mom doesn’t love me anymore.” “My Dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years.” “Please just one more hug.” . You can only imagine what “Pastor Hugs” did to folks. So we told them over and over that they were impossibly loved and needed and precious. And we hugged until our arms fell off. This is what we are doing here, what we are here for. . The last pic is what you look like at the end of Pride covered in glitter, sweat, and more than a few tears. . Thanks to Sara Cunningham and the @freemomhugs tribe for the wonderful inspiration.
The person doing the hugging in that picture is Jen Hatmaker, a Christian author who was roasted by evangelicals for expressing support for the LGBTQ community. She supports marriage equality and believes same-sex relationships can be holy. Because she expressed those views, her books were pulled from LifeWay, a large Christian retailer, and she lost a significant portion of her fan base.
All that’s to say her offer of “mom hugs” is no empty gesture like we see some Christians offer at Pride parades.
Sara Cunningham, who gets a shout-out from Hatmaker for being the inspiration for the “mom hugs,” is the woman who offered to attend same-sex weddings in place of parents who refuse to attend.
Cassandra Stone at Scary Mommy notes that this act of love is something any group can do:
… This is such an easy, simple, literally free act of kindness that can completely make someone’s day. Unfortunately, it’s common for members of the LGBTQ community to have not-so-great relationships with their parents or other relatives — so this act of acceptance and unconditional love is a truly beautiful thing.
A lot of Christians pay lip service to the idea of “loving” the LGBTQ community. It’s the “sin” they don’t like, but everything else is okay, right? Unfortunately, their actions — like voting against same-sex marriage, refusing to sell them baked goods, restricting their ability to adopt children at federally funded agencies — say another. Hatmaker is the real deal, though. She’s someone whose walk matches her talk.
If only more Christians would follow her lead.