ND moms support LGBTQ community with hugs
FARGO — If you took a walk through Island Park on Saturday, Aug. 10, you would have seen thousands of people — and canines, dressed in all colors of the rainbow to show support of the LGBTQ community.
Puddles the poodle was the center of attention when he showed up decked out in color and gems.
"He is rainbow," said his owner and dog groomer, Samantha Debates, "but I think he is also gay because he seems to not have as much interest in the girl dogs, so he's showing his colors as well."
Possibly a more loving addition to the festivities this year were the people in a line giving random strangers a hug.
They're a group of North Dakota moms showing their support through a organization called, "Free Mom Hugs."
It's a national organization of affirming parents and allies who love the LGBTQ+ community unconditionally.
"It's just important to spread love," said co-leader of the North Dakota chapter, Jet Houseman, "and let people know that we hear them, we accept them, they're loved no matter what."
They just established a North Dakota chapter this year and today is their first time at a pride event.
Houseman said when people come out, a lot of times families don't accept them and they're disowned or ostracized by their community.
"They need that hug from a mom, from somebody that loves them, accepts them for who they are," she said.
Mom and co-leader, Amy Austin said a simple hug can turn into an emotional experience for both the mom and the person getting a hug.
"They walk away with smiles," she said, "sometimes they walk away with tears, but mostly smiles and they're happy when they leave."
People in the park are loving the moms and their support. A local LGBTQ+ community member, Salina Jaeger, said a mom hug, "... is always good, not everybody's mom always has that and not everybody's parents are accepting so just to have that warm feeling is amazing because not everybody can have that."
The goal of the organization is to spread their love across North Dakota and the world to those that feel like they're alone.
"It breaks my heart when there are other children that are not accepted by their families and I thought if I could do anything to make this world a better place, this is one small thing that I can do to make them feel better," Austin said.
Free Mom Hugs will travel to all pride events across North Dakota.
You also don't have to be a mom to join, they say anyone can be a hugger.
To join, visit this website: