Oklahoma woman melts hearts as she offers to be a stand-in mom at LGBTQ weddings
LGBTQ have had to face backlash for a long time and even though same-sex marriage has been legal in the US for three years now, many people and laws remain unchanged.
People from the LGBTQ community still find it hard for people to accept them and even though the US made same-sex marriage legal in the country three years ago. Not much has changed when it comes to people and their perspective. However, Sara Cunningham is helping make the world a better place one step at a time. Sara is a mum of two, an ordained minister who works at an architectural firm and a proud advocate of LGBTQ community. Sara decided to be there for people who did not have the support of others when they came out of the closet. Sara got into thinking about the plight of people from the community when her son, Parker came out as gay at the age of 21.
"'Mom, I met someone and I need you to be okay with it,'" she recalled him telling her in an interview with CBS. Sara admitted that at first, it was hard to wrap her head around the truth. I'm a woman of faith ... We live in a conservative town," she said. "It sounds bad to say it, but I felt like I had to choose between my child and faith. I was under this impression it was the ultimate offense." However, Sara knew that it was her son and she would love him no matter what.
Despite this, she decided to educate herself on how she could be there for her son and make him feel accepted but unfortunately, she did not know where to start. "I didn't know where to look for resources at first. I thought I was the only mom in Oklahoma with a gay kid," she recalled.
Things changed when Sara decided to join a private Facebook group which had other mothers going through the same dilemma and that completely changed her life. Sara not only learned how to reconcile with her faith but also gained enough knowledge to write her own book which would help mothers who have been struggling with the same things as her. Her book titled 'How We Sleep at Night: A Mother's Memoir' talks about her journey as a mother who starts with the Church and ends at the Pride Parade.
In 2014, she attended the pride parade along with her husband. We stood with our son at a pride parade in Oklahoma City. It was my first interaction with the community that I was so alienated from by my own ignorance and my own fear ... And I realized this was a beautiful community." She loved it so much that she decided to attend it the next year as well and this time, she knew just what she wanted to do when attending the event.
"Free Mom Hugs," her pin read. "Anyone who made eye contact with me, I'd say, 'Can I offer you a free mom hug or high five?' And I went home with glitter all over me." It was during this parade that Sara got to hear the heartbreaking stories of people who were rejected by their family members and friends. "I heard horror stories that would haunt me," she said. Now, Sara runs her own Facebook group for mothers called "Free Mom Hugs" page. The 'about us' section of the page reads, " FREE MOM HUGS" is all about Mom's who love LGBTQ+ kids. We share our stories and love in hopes to see the change in the world around us."
She also became ordained so she can officiate LGBTQ weddings."Many of the weddings I officiate, I'll say, 'How are your parents? Are they accepting?' And they say, 'Well, I don't know if I'll invite them or not, they don't acknowledge my relationship,'" This led Sara to write her viral "stand-in mom" at weddings post that read, "If you need a mom to attend your same-sex wedding because your biological mom won't. Call me. I'm there. I'll be your biggest fan. I'll even bring the bubbles."
Sara has officiated 12 same-sex weddings so far, she said, and since posting her offer to attend weddings as a "mom". "There's so many -- I don't mean to sound boastful -- but I haven't even been able to address my private messages yet. There's 130 in my inbox," she said. She added that the members of her "Free Mom Hugs" organization visit "churches, colleges, hospitals...we're helping in any area that we can." At the same time, Sara added that dads are also welcome to join. "When we have dads walk with us in the pride parades, we have kids going over the barricades to get hugs from these dads," she said. "We encourage dads, friends, and advocates to walk with us."