PITTSBURGH — A man seen offering Pride Parade attendees in Pittsburgh “Dad Hugs” has gone viral.
Howie Dittman went to the Pride Parade on June 9 wearing a shirt that said “Free Dad Hugs” along with a friend who wore a “Free Mom Hugs” shirt. Dittman said he gave out hundreds of hugs to parade go-ers.
On a now-viral Facebook post, Dittman said most of the people he gave hugs to were happy, but a few were more emotional.
He said one of the people who accepted a hug was a man who said he was kicked out of the house at 19 when his parents found out he was gay.
“He cried on my shoulder. Sobbed. Squeezed me with everything he had,” Dittman said in the post. “I felt a tiny bit of that pain that he carries with him every minute of every day. He was abandoned because of who he loves.”
He said one woman hugged him with tears in her eyes and kept thanking him.
He said he hopes parents seeing his post take a moment to imagine how deep the cuts must be for children who feel lost from their parents because of their sexual orientation.
“Try to imagine how deep those cuts must be,” he said. “Please don’t be the parent of a child that has to shoulder that burden.”