Get your free hugs at PrideFest Milwaukee!

Want to help make someone’s day? Join the Free Hugs Movement!

Our group offers free hugs to those who really need it — from people who just want to share a hug for the day!

“This is my way of honoring people who’ve had the courage to come out,” says organizer Melissa Whitaker.

“To this day, so many LGBTQ people face rejection from their own families simply for being who they are.  During pride weekend, everyone can use an extra hug of reassurance, recognition and appreciation.  It’s a simple thank you for being YOU.”

Melissa’s son, Ash Whitaker, was the first-ever Valor Award Winner at PrideFest Milwaukee 2016.

“I have fully accepted my son and we have been fortunate to have each other, regardless of our own identities.”

If you would like to volunteer for the Free Hugs Movement at PrideFest Milwaukee or at the Milwaukee Pride Parade, please email Melissa Whitaker.


  1. Count me in! As a mother to an LGBTQ+ daughter, a teacher to MANY LGBTQ+ students, and a friend to many beautiful LGBTQ+ people, I know all too well the power of a hug.

    Color me there.

  2. Lori Turner says

    I’m not a Mom of an LGBTQ, just don’t think ANYONE should be judged, yet EVERYONE deserves to be accepted and hugged!!!!

  3. Amy Peplinski says

    I will be there giving the biggest warmest loving hugs to anyone who would like one. We are beautiful and we all deserve to be loved no matter what…Love Amy Peplinski

  4. Dieter von Koblenz says

    Such a great idea. A human touch can mean so much. Kudos.

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