If you're in need of a boost and having your heart lifted, then look no further, because this guy giving out 'dad hugs' at Pride is exactly what you need.
Scott Dittman, 44, was headed to Pittsburgh Pride with Free Mom Hugs, an organisation that assists young LGBT+ people as well as providing free hugs at Pride events, and explained that he didn't really think of himself as an LGBT+ ally first and foremost.
However, after attending Pride that day in Pittsburgh, everything changed. Speaking to Buzzfeed News about his decision to attend, he said:
I just said, 'well I’m going to go,' and I hopped on Amazon and grabbed a 'free dad hugs' T-shirt.
I just thought it would put a smile on people’s faces.
On June 9th, he took to Facebook, sharing a photograph of himself hugging two attendees at Pride, alongside their heartbreaking stories, and it quickly went viral, with over 235K shares, and 33K comments.
In the post, he explained the back story to both of the people he was pictured with. In the first, in which he's seen hugging a young man, he said:
He was kicked out at 19 when his parents found out.
They haven't spoken to him since. He cried on my shoulder. Sobbed. Squeezed me with everything he had.
I felt a tiny bit of that pain that he carries with him every minute of every day. He was abandoned because of who he loves.
And on June 9th, 2019, he was participating in a celebration of love when he was brought to his emotional knees by a shirt that said "FREE DAD HUGS" on a complete stranger.
He also elaborated on the woman in the photograph's story:
Her story? I don't know the specifics. But I know that she saw me from across the street. I wasn't paying attention.
By the time she got to me, she had tears in her eyes. She stood in front of me and looked up at me, with a look of sadness and helplessness that I'll never forget.
She hugged me with everything she had. And I hugged her back. She held on for so long, melting into me, and thanked me endlessly.
And I can't stop thinking about her. What she must be going thru with her family... the ones who are supposed to be there for her no matter what.
Who does she go to when she needs advice on love, money or just life?
Who does she share old memories with that only her parents would have been there for?
What are her holidays like? How often does she hope for that phone call, with unconditional love on the other end?
I don't know her story. But it doesn't feel like a huge leap to assume she's lost those who should love her the most and forever.
Speaking to Fox News in the wake of going viral after attending the event, the Karns City man said:
We went down to Pittsburgh to hand out some hugs and create some smiles, but left with a deeper understanding of the abyss of pain left in those who lost the support of their families simply due to who they love.
Seeing and feeling the joy and pain in people of all ages, and seeing some of them emotionally buckle at the simple idea of a ‘dad hug’ was overwhelming.
They would be laughing and smiling and singing, enjoying the festive atmosphere, then see our 'hugs' shirts and switches would flip.
It was incredibly powerful and humbling to be a part of those moments.
If that hasn't brightened your day, we aren't sure what will.
Happy Pride, one and all!
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