Scott Dittman never imagined an Amazon T-shirt purchase would move so many to tears. But when he wore his “Free Dad Hugs” tee to Pittsburgh’s Pride last weekend, Dittman—known by loved ones as Howie—quickly became the ultimate LGBT ally.
“I just thought it would put a smile on people’s faces,” he told BuzzFeed News.
At the parade, he brought young LGBT attendees to tears. One man told Dittman he was abandoned by his parents when he came out at 19.
“You could tell they hadn’t had something as simple as a hug from their dad in a long time,” he said. “That broke my heart.”
Later that day, Dittman took to Facebook to share his frustrations.
“Imagine that, parents. Imagine that your child feels SO LOST FROM YOU that they sink into the arms of a complete stranger and sob endlessly just because that stranger is wearing a shirt offering hugs from a dad,” he wrote. “Think of the depths of their pain. Try to imagine how deep those cuts must be.”