In light of Pride Month, dads are going to Pride Parades to offer hugs to members of the LGBTQ+ community who didn’t have supportive parents. In a heartwarming post by Howie Dittman, parents are being called out for not providing their kids with unconditional love and support. Without a guiding influence in their lives, these kids had to figure out their identities alone—something truly scary.
This month, Pride Parades are happening all across the world. Pride’s goal is to support the LGBTQ+ community by using the Pride Festival as a central rallying point. Through the celebration of diversity and constant support from the community and its allies, Pride in every city will create a space for people to express who they truly are, both now and in the future. While support from the community is essential, it’s important that the people closest to you also accept you for who you are.
Dittman and a handful of his friends went to the Pittsburgh Pride Parade last Monday, and they stood there giving free dad and mom hugs. In a Facebook post on the Love What Matters page, Dittman describes two specific interactions he had with people at the parade. The boy he was hugging told him that he was kicked out at 19 when his parents found out about his sexuality, and they haven’t spoken to him since. The girl hugged him for so long and was thanking him endlessly.
On that day, over 700 hugs were given in two and a half hours. Upon seeing the “free dad hugs” or “free mom hugs” tees that the group were wearing, many marchers were brought to tears and melted in the arms of a stranger. Dittman told CBS News that he decided to go give free hugs because he thought that the rate of rejection from fathers is probably higher than mothers, so he can be the stand-in dad who gives unconditional support and love.
Dittman’s post urges parents to imagine what their child feels like. They have been pushed so far away from their parents just because of who they are—to the point that they would cry in the arms of a stranger. It shouldn’t have to take you seeing your child in the arms of a stranger to realize how much they need your love and support.