Group Gives Love, Help To LGBTQ+ Group One Hug At A Time – CBS Saskatoon

Saskatoon (CBSLA) – Imagine being gay and coming to your parents and family only to be rejected for living your truth.

Undated photo. (CBSLA)

It happens a lot, and some in the LGBTQIA community feel lonely, confused, or worse, depressed and / or suicidal. But a nationwide group is hoping to change that, one hug at a time.

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Christina Rodelo spoke to DeMarco Morgan of CBS2 News This Morning about the day her son Christopher, currently a PhD student at Harvard, decided to speak to her about his sexuality.

“I felt honored, I felt that he could open up to me,” said Rodelo. “I wanted to support him and show him how proud I am of him, that he is the real me.”

Rodelo understood the challenges, risks, and often the family rejection that so many in the LGBTQ + community face when first telling their parents and family that they are gay and wanted to do more to help to honor their son’s courage.

“Above all, how many families deny their children,” said Rodelo.

So she joined the Southern California chapter of Free Mom Hugs.

“It was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life,” said Rodelo.

It’s a country chapter of the national organization that advocates for equality for the LGBTQ + community by providing resources, education, support and yes, a big hug.

“We have fathers, we have sisters, we have allies,” she said.

Members of the organization, like Rodelo, will also take the place of parents who refuse to attend important events such as birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, and weddings after learning that their child or a loved one is gay.

“What really caught me was someone telling me they hadn’t hugged their mother in over five years,” Rodelo said.

The organization was founded by Sara Cunningham, who lives in Oklahoma City. Your son Parker is gay.

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“When he turned 21, he said, ‘Mom, I met someone and you have to deal with it.’ I didn’t take the news very well, ”Cunningham told CBS2 in a satellite interview.

Cunningham said she also rejected her son because he was gay when he first came out because of her religious beliefs.

“I said a few things and acted in ways that I still regret to this day,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham’s efforts to redress her wrong through love, hugs, and support have now spread across the country, with chapters in 30 states.

“The love and affection and just the affirmation of your close ones who are 90 percent of the people we come from is critical, it’s critical,” said Cunningham.

In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, Morgan sat down with the Southern California Hugs and Volunteers Chapter at Free Mom Hugs for an emotional studio interview.

“When my son came out, I came out, I went to events, and what I learned is that by coming out and letting the world know that I have a gay son, I found out that this colleague was a lesbian Daughter has, you know? as soon as you use the community, they fall back, ”said father Greg Dunbar at the time.

This interview took place months before the organization found itself in a bind and forced to ditch the hug and follow guidelines on COVID-19 and social distancing.

“Everything was stopped, shut down, we had all these events planned,” said Rodelo.

Instead of handing out free hugs, they took part in caravans in the neighborhood.

“It could be 10 cars, it could be 20 cars, we honk, we shout ‘We love you’,” said Rodelo. “Just to show the community that we are still there, especially in these times.”

Times, says Rodelo, that can only make Free Mom Hugs’ message and mission stronger and more rewarding.

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“It was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life,” said Rodelo.

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