SoFonda Tees! is absolutely delighted to be a partner with Free Mom Hugs™, supplying low-cost shirts to the volunteers who provide affirming hugs, education, and loving support to the disenfranchised and outcast members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been hurt by the church. Let me tell you how this came about.
A number of years ago in the depth of my despair at trying to live an inauthentic life, I read the biography of Randy Roberts Potts, the gay grandson of evangelist Oral Roberts. He had faced the expectations of his über religious family and come to this conclusion: “I had been suicidal for years, and I eventually realized that my children needed a father who wanted to live, who looked forward to tomorrow, and the only way I could be that man was to… come out.” Those words resonated in me. I was tired of trying not to be a disappointment, a failure at being someone I wasn’t. My daughters deserved a papa who was happy to be alive. And so I started the process of coming out myself. But every step was fraught with guilt over the pain I was causing the person I loved most, and fear over those I would lose.
I went to the Gay Christian Network national conference in 2015, and after the big concert on Friday night, I was sitting alone in a corner of the center’s lobby, trying to come to terms with what I needed to do for my own survival as opposed to how much I desperately wanted to please others and keep their approval. It was about 11:30 at night, the lobby empty except for a few stragglers. This woman who
reminded me every bit of Annie Lennox walked by and smiled, then paused. “Are you ok?” she asked. I mumbled something about being fine and gathering my thoughts, and she went on her way.
About 20 minutes later she came back by. She paused by the sofa where I sat and asked if she could sit with me a minute. And then Sara Cunningham shared some of her story, and then generously listened to me pour out my heart for the next 2 hours or so.
Sara had a wonderfully different perspective. She was a straight Christian mom who had come to a parting of the ways with the evangelical church that persecuted her gay son. She had reconciled her faith with her mama bear instincts to fiercely love and protect her gay son every bit as much as her straight son. She had come to believe every person deserved love for their authentic self. And she gave Mom hugs to those who needed them. She was the first straight Christian I spoke to candidly about my circumstances, my fears, and my needs, and she gave me insight and her blessing. And yes, a hug. Sara changed my life that night.
So fast forward 4 years. Free Mom Hugs has exploded into a nationwide organization that delivers Mom, Dad, Nana, and Friend hugs at Pride and other events where LGBTQ+ individuals gather. Any person who needs the affirmation that their own parent or church refuses will get it from one of Sara’s team.
So my huzzband, Khrysso, and I were starting an apparel and accessories store online to feature our art and creativity at about the same time that Free Mom Hugs was looking for team leaders for events in southern California. Khrysso and I volunteered to be team leaders in the Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley. And it so happened that Free Mom Hugs was looking for a new tee vendor to supply their volunteers. We were absolutely delighted The Artists LeFey LLC was able to offer shirts at nearly cost for a mission so dear to our hearts.
I don’t believe things like this happen by accident. Love allows us to meet up with others who spread light and warmth, and lend our efforts to theirs. So we help the volunteers to be easily identified at events: if you see the shirt, a hug and an ear are coming your way. And the love comes through the heart of every hugger all the way from Sara. Learn more about Free Mom Hugs™ and join Sara team.