Sara Cunningham, a mom from Oklahoma, will be the first to admit that when one of her sons came out at 21 years old, she struggled to be "okay" with it. She told CBS News, "I'm a woman of faith ... We live in a conservative town. It sound bad to say it, but I felt like I had to chose between my child and faith. I was under this impression it was the ultimate offense." Connecting with other moms in the same position on social media made all the difference, and now, she's writing a book to help other mothers struggling to accept their LGBTQ children. She's also recently gone viral for taking to Facebook to support the LGBTQ community in a different way: by offering to be a "stand-in mom" at same-sex weddings.
On July 20, Cunningham took to Facebook to share a photo of herself alongside the caption: "PSA. If you need a mom to attend your same sex wedding because your biological mom won't. Call me. I'm there. I'll be your biggest fan. I'll even bring the bubbles."
The response has been truly awesome. The post currently has over 1,400 comments, more than 8.2K shares, and nearly 9K reactions. "You’re a wonderful woman and an inspiration to mothers everywhere on what unconditional love truly is!" one commenter wrote. Another said, "Thank you, Sara. Reading about this brightened my day. My parents boycotted my wedding to my husband and accused me of 'only thinking about (my)self' for having the nerve to ask. Knowing there are folks like you out there, particularly in the Midwest (where I'm from also) makes the world seem a better place."
This isn't the first time that Cunningham has lent her maternal love to the LGBTQ community. She told CBS that the first pride parade she attended was with her husband in 2014. "We stood with our son at a pride parade in Oklahoma City," she explained. "It was my first interaction with the community that I was so alienated from by my own ignorance and my own fear ... And I realized this was a beautiful community."
Fast-forward a year later, and she attended again, but this time wearing a button that says "Free Mom Hugs." "Anyone who made eye contact with me, I'd say, 'Can I offer you a free mom hug or high-five?'" she explained. In turn, members of the community opened not just their arms but their hearts to Cunningham, who admitted that she "heard horror stories" that haunt her.
Props to Cunningham for sharing her big, beautiful mom heart in this way. No doubt her loving efforts are appreciated and hopefully even contagious.