Free Mom Hugs(FMH) is a national non-profit organization founded in 2018 that advocates for the LGBTQ+ community through education, visibility, and conversations.
FMH attends LGBTQ+ events gleefully offering hugs, and positive affirmations to thousands.
Arleta Greer, vice president of the board of directors for Free Mom Hugs of Michigan, states that the beauty of FMH is in its dedication to advocating for LGBTQ+ youth.
“We offer parental support and love that people in the LGBTQ+ community do not get from their parents. You do not have to be a mom, to be a free mom hugger. Just be willing to meet them right where they are, listen to their stories, and give love,” said Greer. “In this community, this younger generation is scared to come out to their parents. They fear that they will receive rejection and direct denial of who they are. I want to show them they’re beautiful and love them, as I would love any of my children. And that hug makes a difference, even if it’s just for a short time.”
According to the CDC, One out of five young people do not identify as heterosexual. This study also found that LGBTQ students were twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to report they had been experienced physical abuse from a parent or another adult in their home.
The benefits of hugs
Moments of affection, such as hugging offer a number of health benefits to mental and physical health.
According to an article by healthline.com, supporting someone through touch can help reduce stress for both parties.
The article also ties several other benefits to hugging. These include helping reduce pain, helping one communicate, helping reduce fears and more.
In addition to hugs and comfort, FMH-Michigan also hosts LGBTQ+ events such as Pride Prom, which took place in Ferndale this past June. FMH also collaborated with the Detroit Pistons during Motor City Pride to host its youth prom night.
FMH plans to collaborate with Ann Arbor’s LGBTQ+ organization, Jim Toy Community Center, which recently unveiled its Jim Toy Community Foundation.
“During the pandemic, The Jim Toy Community Center had a lot of struggles, and we are hoping to expand on that now that they’re kind of getting their feet back under them,” Greer said. “During the Pride Picnic, I spoke with people from Jim Toy about what their plans were in hopes to be able to collaborate with them more.”
This collaboration will benefit many Ann Arbor residents, as the city is ranked as one of the most LGBT-populated and LGBT-friendly cities in Michigan by the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.
For now, Greer states FMH is creating visibility for the LGBTQ+ community through education, offering educational speeches explaining LGBTQ+ courses such as differentiations between gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation.
Through education, Greer believes the information will help provide more widespread acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
“I’m trying to bring awareness to educate people,” Greer said. “Progress has not been a straight line. I feel like there were things we have slipped backward on. You have to stay on top of it. You have to stay informed.”
FMH is the support system for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community with-or-without the support of a family and FMH wants you to know that you are loved.
“I have my personal goal. If it’s perfectly acceptable for others to hate people they don’t know. Then I will love everyone I meet,” Greer said. She continued. “I want to tell everyone in the community, it does get better. It may not seem like it now, but it will.”