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Revelers extend a flag during the annual gay pride parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 3, 2018.
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Citizenship

Oklahoma Woman Volunteers to Be Stand-In Mom at LGBTQ Weddings


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Same-sex marriage remains illegal in several states throughout the US. But actions like the one this mom has taken increase LGBTQ acceptance, curb violence, and reduce inequalities throughout the nation. You can join us in taking action on this issue and the rest of the UN’s Global Goals here.

A Midwestern woman is offering to be a stand-in mom at the LGBTQ weddings of strangers.

Sara Cunningham, who hails from Oklahoma, wants to be a source of comfort to couples whose families have not yet accepted their relationship, reports CBS News.

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"If you need a mom to attend your same-sex wedding because your biological mom won't, call me. I'm there," Cunningham wrote in a Facebook post that has since gone viral.

Up to 1.6 million young people experience homelessness in the United States every year, and 40% of them identify as LGBTQ, according to a 2012 study conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law.

The figures illustrate the harsh challenges many young queer individuals face in seeking acceptance from family members.

To wit, 46% of homeless LGBTQ youths ran away due to family rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity, while 43% were forced out by their parents, the study noted. Yet another 32% faced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse at home, reported the Washington Post.

Cunningham is no stranger to LGBTQ activism. She told CBS News that ever since her son, Parker, first came out to her at the age of 21, she undertook her own journey of understanding and acceptance via private Facebook groups. She also wrote a book to help other mothers struggling to accept their LGBTQ children: How We Sleep at Night: A Mother's Memoir.

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But it was after attending her first Pride march that Cunningham encountered stories of individuals being disowned by their families due to their sexual orientation.

The experience inspired her to begin offering “Free Mom Hugs” to anyone who wanted or needed one at subsequent Pride events, and spawned a support group of 3,000 members under the same name, noted CBS News.

She has since become ordained as an officiant and has officiated at 12 LGBTQ weddings.

“Many of the weddings I officiate, I'll say, 'How are your parents? Are they accepting?' And they say, 'Well, I don't know if I'll invite them or not, they don't acknowledge my relationship,'" Cunningham told CBS News.

It was such instances that prompted her to volunteer to be a "stand-in mom" at weddings, too.

"I'll be your biggest fan,” she wrote. “I'll even bring the bubbles."