Cindy Grant said she knows there are many parents that aren’t like her.
When her daughter, Jade (Hoysradt) told her she was gay, Grant said it was important to her that Jade knew that she was loved and supported for being true to herself.
“I said to her ‘why are you crying? This is great…I don’t want you hiding in silence… I’m delighted. Be who you are,‘” Grant said.
For other individuals in the LGBTQ2+ community who might not have had the same experience with their mothers, fathers or loved ones, the St. John’s, N.L. resident founded a local Facebook group that she hopes can make up for that void in some way.
“Free Mom/Dad Hugs NL” is made up of over 200 members and exists to raise awareness of how people are shunned by their family members, but also provides those in the LGBTQ2+ community with support if they need it. Grant and the rest of its members plan to be at St. John’s Pride Parade offering free hugs to those marching on July 14.
“It all comes down to people understanding how many people in the Pride community have been set aside by their families. They don’t get to hug their moms and their dads and their nannies and their poppies, their sisters and their brothers,” she said. “A lot of their families have pretty well disowned them because they’ve come out and it breaks my heart. I just don’t understand how a mom or a dad or a loved one could do this.”
Grant said she was inspired to do something for the local LGBTQ2+ community after she came across an article on Facebook about a mom in the United States who was giving free “mom hugs” at a Pride Parade to kids that were once rejected by their parents.
Originally she thought she would just show up to the Pride Parade in St. John’s, sporting a t-shirt and a sign that would let people know she was sharing “mom hugs.”
But she credits her daughter as being the force that pushed her into creating something bigger after she shared the article with her.
“She said ‘mom you need to do this, you should start a Facebook group,’” Grant said. “I said ‘I don’t know about that now Jade,’ but anyways, I started a Facebook group.”
The mother of two said since she started the group on June 9, she’s been overwhelmed with the following it’s attracted.
“All I wanted to do was stand on the side of the road and hug some people and it’s a huge movement right now, but it’s a great thing,” she said.
She added that while she hopes the group can make an annual appearance at each Pride Parade, she’s very much focused on ensuring the first outing is a success.
“I want to be able to hug any individual on July 14th here in Newfoundland and I want to make them feel amazing,” she said. “I want to be their mom for the day, embrace them and tell them ‘you show the world who you are–it’s okay’ and I want everyone who’s going to join me that day to do the same.”