'I miss this': Texas church went to the Austin Pride Parade to give free hugs from moms, dads, grandparents, and pastor

Jen Hatmaker hands out a “mom hug” to a person attending the Austin Pride parade over the weekend. (Photo: Jen Hatmaker via Instagram)

“I miss this.” 

“My mom doesn’t love me anymore.”

“My Dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years.”

“Please just one more hug.”

These were a few phrases that Jen Hatmaker, a New York Times bestselling author, heard while she gave out “free mom hugs” at the Austin Pride parade this weekend. 

The mother of five attended the parade alongside her husband, Brandon, and her church, Austin New Church, to give those participating in the Pride event some much-needed mom, dad, and grandparent hugs. Brandon also happens to be the church’s pastor. “You can only imagine what ‘Pastor Hugs’ did to folks,” Jen wrote.


“Our arms were never empty. We ‘happy hugged’ a ton of folks, but dozens of times, I’d spot someone in the parade look our way, squint at our shirts and posters, and RACE into our arms,” Jen shared. “…[W]e told them over and over that they were impossibly loved and needed and precious. And we hugged until our arms fell off.”

Hatmaker and the members of Austin New Church credited Sara Cunningham of Free Mom Hugs for the inspiration to show love to the LGBTQ community who, sadly, don’t always have the unconditional love and support from their own family members.

Hatmaker has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ community, and she doesn’t just talk the talk — she walks the walk. When asked if she thought an LGBTQ relationship could be holy, Hatmaker answered: “I do. And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting. I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here.”

As a result, LifeWay, a Christian bookstore chain, removed her books from sale, and plenty of anti-LGBTQ folks flooded her comment sections. But Hatmaker stood by her words, and her husband wrote that he was 100 percent on the same page as his wife.

In 2016, Hatmaker wrote: “It is high time Christians opened wide their arms, wide their churches, wide their tables, wide their homes to the LGBT community. So great has our condemnation and exclusion been, that gay Christian teens are SEVEN TIMES more likely to commit suicide.

“Nope. No. No ma’am. Not on my watch. No more. This is so far outside the gospel of Jesus that I don’t even recognize its reflection. I can’t. I won’t. I refuse…LGBT gang and all those who love you: You are loved and special and wanted and needed.”

Jen Hatmaker did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.

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