Ypsilanti Pride 2019 - Setting the Stage
I parked on the street about a quarter of a mile from the festival. I was coming straight from work and the late afternoon sun was bright and still high. I was nervous, heart pounding, knees knocking.
This was my first pride event I was attending as a newly minted Free Mom Hugger. I was excited and delighted at the music, bright happy colors and buzzing crowd of people.
I finally found the booth, a small tent with a table covered with a bright cloth, and rainbow heart stickers. I approached the lady standing behind the table wearing a free mom hugs shirt. She smiled kindly and introduced herself.
I wasn't sure how I'd be received, but I stepped out, not far from the table, and started just scanning the crowd. I'd smile and wave or wink as I made eye contact with people walking by. Then a group of young adults came running up, sweeping every mother out there in a big and happy embrace.
Hugs for All
After that, people seemed to be eager and ready to respond to a quiet gesture offering a hug, I became sweaty and thirsty, but the people didn't mind and I didn't care. I felt my heart going out to each one as I wrapped them in my arms.
I held people who would tell me happily that they were accepted at home, but loved the acceptance they felt with Free Mom Hugs.
I listen to people who held on to me tight and teared up about the loss of their own mother, and how much it meant to have a mother's hug again.
I cried with people who would hug me and cry and tell me about the rejection they had felt from their own family. I became those people's mama, even if only for a moment.
And I laughed with joy at those who accepted my hug with giggles and joy just because it made them happy.
As the evening ended, the people went home, and the tent and table where packed up and put away, I walked back to my car. I felt I was walking three feet off the ground. I didn't even realize how hungry or tired I was until I got out of the car at home. I was achy and exhausted, but in love with the experience I had just left. I knew I would have to do this again, and more.....