Pride Hugs

Dittman hugs pride marcher during Pittsburgh Pride parade

(CBS News) -- Helping others is not something new to one Pennsylvania man, who attended and received over 700 hugs in two and a half hours from individuals at the Pittsburgh Pride parade on Saturday. Going to the parade gave Scott Dittman, who is married to a woman and has two kids, a new outlook on issues people in the LGBT community faced in their personal lives, specifically their relationships with parents.

"You go in thinking you're just going to put a smile on a few peoples faces, and you come out knowing or understanding their struggle," Dittman told CBS News. "It was life-changing, it really was."

Dittman learned about the event from a friend on Facebook, who is part of the organization Free Mom Hugs — which works with LGBT people and gives hugs at Pride events. He decided to attend the parade with his own T-shirt, which read "Free Dad Hugs."

"My first thought was, I'm thinking the rate of rejection from fathers is probably higher than mothers," Dittman told CBS News. "I can give dad hugs."

The tee prompted hundreds of hugs from strangers filled with deep emotions. 

"She had tears welled up in her eyes and she was just staring at me," said Dittman. "She just wrapped her arms around me and she didn't let go — and I wasn't going to let go."

Since the parade, Dittman has gone viral with a Facebook post addressed to parents, which has garnered over 231,000 shares. "Imagine that your child feels so lost from you that they sink into the arms of a complete stranger," wrote Dittman. "Try to imagine how deep those cuts must be."

Continue reading from CBS News

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