When Sara Cunningham’s son Parker came out as gay, her world was turned upside down. She found all her beliefs about modern life and people challenged. And after founding a nonprofit called Free Mom Hugs, her engagement with the LGBTQ community grew. Nowadays, she can often be seen at same-sex weddings, where she has a peculiar role to play.
Cunningham was a regular Midwest mom, enjoying church and family in equal measure when Parker dropped a bombshell in 2011. She told magazine Woman’s Day in May 2019, “I didn’t take the news very well.” It kicked off a struggle as she tried to reconcile her faith with her love for her son. In the end, she left the church and found friends in a Facebook gathering for moms who had, like her, quit their congregation because of their gay children.