I struggle to find the right words as I am overwhelmed with emotion.
I began the day with high anxiety but as the morning wore on and my group grew, the “mom” energy was high!Our group may not have been the largest but we were the most energetic and impactful.
The hugging started before the parade began. A young woman came and asked for a hug. It was tight and it was long. There were tears….. and that was just the beginning.
Once the parade began, we were ready…. Arms wide open!
“I need a hug!”
“I want a mom hug!”
“Can I have a dad hug?” (We had several dads with us too!!)
Some people just opened their arms and waited for us!
For four miles, we high fived, waved and hugged. There were many times I had to run to catch up because the hugs were long…I don’t let go of a hug until they do! I tell each person I hug that they are loved and they matter.
I lost count of the hugs that ended with tears.
I heard more than once as I walked away, “that’s amazing” “what a wonderful group” “she gives great hugs!
Just when I thought it could go on forever, we were at the end of the parade route.
Our group sat together in the shade, relishing in the endorphin rush, recounting stories of epic hugs and soon we went our separate ways.
What I didn’t realize is that my job was not yet done.
As I walked back to my car I was stopped on a corner by an older man. He asked if I believed in fate and I said yes. He told me that he had seen me in the parade but couldn’t get to the rail and he really needed a hug. As we hugged he told me his mom never accepted him and she had just passed …. But now that she was gone, he wished he could have hugged her one last time. So …. I was her stand in.
I continued my walk and ran into a young guy I hugged during the parade. He said our group was the best of the parade and what he will always remember.
The last hug is one I will remember a long time. A young woman walked past me at the el. She made eye contact with me as she passed. A few minutes later she had returned and was at my side.
“Do you really give hugs?”
“Yup. Want a mom hug!”
“Oh my god! Really?! You have no idea how much a need a mom hug today…”
So we hugged a long time. She pulled away suddenly, said thanks through tears and walked away as fast as she appeared. I stood there in the middle of the sidewalk stunned. Not sure why she needed that hug so bad but I’m glad I was there.
Today was one I will remember for a long time. One that I will look back on fondly. One that will be a constant reminder of the need we all have to feel loved. One that reinforced, once again, the power of a hug.


Saturday I went to Pridefest.
I got in line to get in and the girl in front of me looked and said, “Are you here by yourself?”
“Yes why?”
“Wow! I would never do that. You are so brave! Are you gay?”
“Oh wow……” she looks at my shirt and then my hat….“Would it be ok to ask for a hug?”
“Sure….. “ and we share a long tight hug.
“My mom hasn’t talked to me in years…. Since I came out”
“When was that?”
“When I was 18….. I’m 24 now. I’ve been on my own since I was 18.”
“That must be hard…” I say and the line begins to move.
“Yea….. but it’s better. I like living my life as me and not as someone else.”
“Well then. You are the brave one.”
We continue to chat as we make our way in. She says “happy pride” and skips off as we enter.
After that I was stopped so many times.
“Can I have a hug?”
Some people just walked up to me with open arms. I heard older men tell me that they had been disowned years ago, that their moms had died without acknowledging them, that kids had left home rather than hide in the closet….
As I was watching a performer, I looked over and noticed a Woods ring! The girl had just graduated! We hugged and then I decided it was time to go.
As I was waiting for a light to change, a couple walked over.
“Can my girlfriend have a mom hug?”
As we hugged the girl that asked said “she misses her mom but her mom says she is dead to her…”
I held on until the other girl pulled away. Her face was wet with tears……
”I miss my mom so much. Thank you for giving me a piece of her for a minute.”
We three hugged together and cried a minute.
“You are loved and you matter.” And we parted ways.
I walked 2 miles back to my car and enjoyed every minute of that walk.
Never underestimate the power of a hug.


2021 Pay-It-Forward:
The first five people to connect with me will receive from me, sometime within the calendar year, a handwritten note, perhaps with a gift attached. There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me.
Let’s all pay it forward this year!
Pay it forward!!
Let’s connect!! Peace, #tutulady #forwardisapace


Day 3 of 30
Election day. 🇺🇸
Many people have already voted. But today is the final day to cast a ballot for this election. Many of us differ on our politics, however today is the day to put up or shut up. People have put on a uniform, fought and died so that we all have the right to cast a ballot for the candidate we feel is best for the job. I never take that responsibility lightly!
I never take that right for granted.
I exercised my freedom to cast a ballot for our future.
I cast a ballot for love.


June is Pride month. Today this photo came up on my memories today. I took this photo four years ago and it still feels like it was just yesterday. So much has changed since I took this photo but it remains one of my all time favorites. It is a constant reminder of so many things…..
LGBTQIA Pride Month is celebrated each year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) Americans. The Stonewall Riots were led by Marsha B. Johnson, a black, trans woman and drag queen. If you are not familiar with that part of history, you can learn more about her and Stonewall here. Pride Month is a month that shines a spotlight on love.
Pride month often a time when people choose to share their stories of coming out in order to live their truth. Should people ever have to “come out” or “stay hidden”? No….but that is another conversation for another day.
My story is that of an ally. My son is gay. I have know that he was gay since he was a toddler. Call it “Mother’s Intuition” but I have always known. His story is his to tell and he tells it in his own way every day.
This is about being the mom of an LGBTQIA child and ally. I am frequently asked, “How do you do it?” and “What should I do? I think my child is gay.”
Well, you love your child. You support that child. You give up the false narrative of what life is “supposed” to be like and you love the child in front of you. You allow your child to lead you and you support your child. If your faith does not support your child, then you find another, more affirming, faith community. If your spouse does not support your child, then it is time to take a serious look at your priorities.
Since the day I found out I was pregnant, I have said that my has a special purpose.
I continue to believe that, as each day he reveals more of who he is becoming. Each day he teaches me something new about life and himself. Each day he teaches me to be a better Ally and Proud Mom. Trust me…..he lets me know when I mess up too and, well, this mom makes plenty of mistakes. He does not mince words and often cuts me to my core but I lean and grow and am a better human for it all.
As a single mom, I am careful who I bring in to my life. Why? Because my son, and all my children, come first before any relationship.
I read a lot. I am in support groups with other parents listening and learning and sometimes sharing what I know. I participate and support when and where I can. Being an educated, compassionate ally is difficult but so worthwhile.
There are so many resources for LQBTQIA+ youth now. So many groups and so much support. That is not to say that bullying and hate does not happen. It does. It happens to our young people as well as those that are older. It has gotten better but it is not gone….just sometimes harder to see.
This is why I partner and volunteer with Free Mom Hugs. This organization is a group of affirming parents and allies who love the LGBTQ+ community unconditionally. They are dedicated to educating families, church, and civic leaders encouraging them to not only affirm the LGBTQ+ community but to celebrate them. Each year at pride I walk in the parade just giving hugs and listening to the spoken and unspoken words of so many. I have heard stories….so many stories. Some bring tears of joy and some bring the tears of searing pain. But it is in those moments, there is so much LOVE. Love, acceptance and affirmation…..and did I mention LOVE?
This year we pause the parades but not the Pride. We pause the “together in person” but not the support. We pause the hugs but not the LOVE!
If you are someone in need of a virtual hug, a listening ear, or just to be seen. I am here for you. If you need support and do not know where to turn for help. I am here for you. If you are a parent who is learning to navigate a different path and want a friend to walk with you. I am here for you. I am here for you. My head and heart are judgment free zones. I may not have all the answers for you, but I can help find resources that will not only help you but others as well.
Back to the picture….my boy running forward, letting his Pride flag fly…..may we all run into the future with such joy and Pride!
Peace –