When you think of the Christian church and the LGBT+ community, sadly it's usually examples of homophobia that come to mind. However, this heartwarming story is bucking the trend.
On Austin Pride Week, Christian best-selling author Jen Hatmaker, and her church the Austin New Church, hit the streets and handed out 'mum hugs' to pride week attendees.
The idea behind 'mum hugs' was originally from Oklahoma author Sarah Cunningham, a religious woman living in a conservative town who struggled to cope when her son came out as gay, because she thought that she had to choose between her faith and her son.
However, after some education, and support networks provided by Facebook groups, Cunningham and her husband abandoned their bigoted views, and began attending LGBT+ Pride events in 2014.
Despite her own transformation, she realised that lots of LGBT+ children weren't as lucky as her son, and were still suffering from rejection from their parents simply because of who they were. She wanted to help.
In 2015, she re-attended Pride, but this time she wore a button labelled 'Free Mum Hugs'. She also made a Facebook post offering her services as a 'stand in mum' to any children disowned by their parents for being gay.
The post went viral, spawning the Free Mom Hugs organisation and Facebook page, and also inspiring Jen Hatmaker and her husband to open their arms to young LGBT+ people.
After the event, Jen posted photos to her Instagram account of the hugs being gratefully received, as well as a selection of heartbreaking quotes from people she'd hugged:
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.
This isn't the first time the writer and TV star has stood up for her beliefs in the face of bigotry. She's an active opponent of Donald Trump, and has spoken out against homophobia in the past. In an interview with Religious News in 2016, she pledged her allegiance to gay marriage, and Black Lives Matter.
When asked what she'd do if one of her children came out as gay, she responded:
I think we would parent that child exactly the same as the rest of them.
Which is to say, we would always be on their side and in their corner and for them and with them.
We want for all of our kids the same thing: faithful, committed marriage and a beautiful family that is committed to God and the church.
I would have the same standard across the board, no matter what.
HT Bored Panda