In honor of Pride Month, the Detroit Red Wings are highlighting nonprofit organizations that recognize and celebrate inclusion, equality, love and togetherness every day.
Today's interview is with Arleta Greer, vice president of the board of directors for Free Mom Hugs of Michigan. The Red Wings proudly supported Free Mom Hugs for the first time last season through group fundraising efforts with proceeds graciously donated on behalf of Free Mom Hugs to Affirmations LGBTQ+ Community Center.
Free Mom Hugs is a group of affirming parents and allies who love the LGBTQ+ community unconditionally. They are dedicated to educating families, church and civic leaders and community members, encouraging them to not only affirm the LGBTQ+ community but to celebrate them.
Greer, who's also a senior IT analyst for Little Caesars, has been with Free Mom Hugs for one year and she spoke to DetroitRedWings.com about the amazing work that her organization does in the community and its partnership with the Red Wings.
Interview with Arleta Greer:
Q: What do you enjoy most about Pride Month?
A: Last year, the thing I loved most about Pride Month was being able to get out there and make eye contact with people and offer them a hug and let them know that they are loved and accepted exactly as they are. Unfortunately this year, COVID put a damper on Pride Month, but we developed a virtual pride event that we live streamed, we have been reaching out with more education and we've used social media more to show people that we still care and we're still listening.
Q: What can hockey organizations do to create a more inclusive environment for players, coaches and fans in the LGBTQ+ community?
A: Definitely getting the word out there that these organizations are welcoming, that hockey is for everyone. It's wonderful to see the organization say that this (game) is for everyone. Anybody can enjoy the sport of hockey, and you're accepted.
Q: How can Red Wings fans support the work of Free Mom Hugs?
A: There is a state website, Facebook.com/FreeMomHugsMichigan, and you can donate there. (Those donations go) directly to our work in Michigan. There's also FreeMomHugs.org, which is the main organizational website. (National donations are) distributed between all 50 states to support various state leaders and continue development of materials and awareness.
Q: What do you see for the partnership with the Red Wings and Free Mom Hugs and the LGBTQ+ community moving forward?
A: What I see moving forward is an open forum between both organizations to allow people to ask questions and become more educated and really see it from a different perspective than how they may have seen it before. Red Wings events are always a joyous thing. The games, the events, the fandom of it all, it's huge. And the ability to add in an entire community that may have felt a little trepidatious about approaching hockey will allow people in this community to feel included. It helps to humanize the LGBTQ+ community instead of people just seeing the label.
To learn more about Free Mom Hugs, visit FreeMomHugs.org or Facebook.com/FreeMomHugsMichigan.