Inspired By OKC Non-Profit, Man Offers ‘Dad Hugs’ At Pittsburgh Pride
OKLAHOMA CITY - A Pittsburg man is going viral online after being seen offering “Dad Hugs” to pride parade attendees. The actions were inspired by Oklahoma City non-profit “Free Mom Hugs.”
Scott “Howie” Dittman attended Pittsburgh’s Pride Parade on June 9. He wore a t-shirt that said “Free Dad Hugs” with ripped off sleeves.
Dittman told News 9 he attended the parade after a friend associated with the “Free Mom Hugs” Pennsylvania chapter RSVP’d to the event on social media.
“My assumption was going in that if you have 100 moms and 100 dads that are faced with that decision of how they are going to continue parenting after a child comes out to them, dads are probably going to have a lower acceptance rate,” said Dittman.
One hug turned into over 700 before the parade was over.
Dittman never expected the emotional response, many he said, were brought to tears.
“I kind of expected that this was going to be joyous and innocent and there was a lot of that,” said Dittman. “Mixed in with that was a much higher percentage of people that were impacted more deeply than I thought.”
It was July 2015 when “Free Mom Hugs” founder Sara Cunningham gave her first mom hug at Oklahoma City’s Pride Parade.
Cunningham went viral in 2018 after she posted to Facebook offering to serve as a stand in mom for LGBTQ couples who don’t have their parent’s approval.
"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," Cunningham wrote.
“Free Mom Hugs” now has chapters in 48 states, and Cunningham’s story is being prepared for the big screen.
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis recently purchased book rights to Cunningham's 2014 memoir "How We Sleep At Night."
Cunningham said she’s thankful for Dittman’s actions.
“What a message to send to dads all around the world to just show up and offer love in such a practical way,” said Dittman. “I was just blown away by the response.”
He said he hopes parents nationwide take a moment to imagine the impact on children who feel lost from their parents due to sexual orientation.
“When you see actual human stories, when they are writing directly saying this is how it changed my life, it’s worth it,” said Dittman.
Cunningham said she and her nonprofit will be at the Oklahoma City Pride Parade on June 22 giving hugs.