Oklahoma City hosted a pride fest that was filled with music, rainbow flags, and hugs—thanks in part to Sara Cunningham and her group, "Free Mom Hugs."
For some people, those hugs bring a feeling of support than is unknown to them.
"My parents are not supportive of me being gay so it just felt good to have somebody say that," Angel Gomez told CBS News.
Cunningham may be supportive now, but there was a time when the devout Christian did not always embrace the LGBTQ community.
When her son, Parker, came out to her, she initially rejected him. For a moment, she thought he was going to go to hell.
"I really thought he was gonna burn in hell for eternity and I thought if I accepted this about him, that made me just as much of a sinner," she said.
Parker still remembers how he was feeling when his mother didn't support him but says that those stories help spread their message of acceptance better.
"You never forget. I mean things that were said or things that were done but it's through kind of telling our story together that I think has really helped us just understand the journey better," said Parker.
"He was sharing the most tender intimate part of himself and I denied him that," his mother said.
The initial denial still haunts her to this day.
"The guilt that he probably felt and I certainly do now and we've worked through a lot of things so, but you can't get rid of those memories," she said.
Cunningham went through some pretty deep soul searching and that is what led to a change of heart.
"I could not reconcile what I learned as a loving God who created my son... that he would cast him into hell," said Cunningham.
"Was there a moment when you said to him, I hear you and I accept you?" CBS Mornings Lead National Correspondent David Begnaud asked.
"Parker and his friend were here in backyard and his friend was sharing his story and I could see self harm marks on his arm and he shared about how he had been alienated from his family and his church group and it was there that I just felt such unconditional love for that person I hardly knew," Sara responded.
It took a near stranger's story to shake her to the core. In 2015, she started Free Mom Hugs and has been hell-bent on showing up for the LGBTQ community consistently.
Sara Cunningham said hugging came naturally because she is a "hugger" and it allowed her to give love "the way a mother should."
In 2018, Cunningham took to social media and said that if anyone needed a mother to attend their same sex wedding, that she would be there. This resonated with people from around the world who all said that they would show up as well.
Cunningham has officiated or served as a stand-in mom at more than a dozen weddings. But it has come at a cost—she has lost friends and family members who did not support what she was doing. Some have reached out to her when they found themselves in a similar situation and someone they love comes out.
Melissa Williams turned to Cunningham after learning her daughter was a lesbian. Williams is now co-leader of the Texas chapter of Free Mom Hugs.
She was among those who attended the Oklahoma City Pride Festival to hand out free hugs.
Harrod Aspen's mother passed away before she came out. She said the connection she gets from "Free Mom Hugs" is something she has longed for.
"Having somebody who represents a mom being accepting is extremely important and there's people like me and others I know that one hug means everything," Aspen said.
In the nearly 10 years since she gave her first mom hug, Cunningham has traveled parts of this country with her son, shedding her shame, forgetting her fear, and joining in on the joy.
"It makes my eyes water when I think of just the outpouring of love and community this is what it's all about," she said.
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