SAN DIEGO -- Sometimes it’s all too easy to take for granted those we love. We assume that the people who we surround ourselves with are aware of how special they are to us, but unless we tell them then how will they know how truly amazing they have made our lives?
For many LGBT individuals, knowing that the love of family and friends is unconditional is a wholly edifying experience.
The website, aNoteToMyKid.com is trying to assist the families and friends of LGBT individuals with the process of breaking down the barriers to communication that so often leave people forever wondering how those they hold near and dear really feel about them.
The site is designed in a blog format and allows anyone to submit a letter about the wonderful LGBT people in their lives. Knowing that love doesn’t waver just because the closet has been cleared out can be life changing for those who receive the letters. For others who have not been lucky enough to have a strong support system of family and friends when coming out, it’s a chance to see that amazing people are out there and that they are embracing the LGBT community.
Co-founders Patrick Wallace, of San Diego, and Michael Volpatt, of Guerneville, Calif., have been spreading the news about the website since its inception in May.
“We originally started with giving parents of LGBT or questioning youth or really any parent for that matter who wanted to write a note of unconditional love to their child the opportunity to do so on the website,” Wallace said. “And recently we were talking to people and a lot of us, including myself, have come out to sisters, brothers, friends or someone else other than our parents first. We thought why not go beyond giving parents the opportunity to tell their unique stories about their child coming out and how they came to terms with it, why not let aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters and friends all weigh in on the experience that they had with it as well.”
Wallace and Volpatt originally conceived the idea for the site after Wallace had seen a letter that Volpatt’s mother had written that was posted on his Facebook page.
“One morning I woke up and my friend, colleague and the co-founder of the site, Michael Volpatt, had posted a letter on Facebook and it was a letter from his mom that was written for this lady who had just found out that her son was coming out of the closet. She was a little bit confused on how she was going to deal with this and she knew that Michael came out to his mom and that they had a really positive coming out experience together. So she wrote a letter for Michael’s friend’s mom and he posted it on Facebook. I saw the letter and was totally moved by it, I called Michael and said, ‘This is amazing, we need to create a site where anyone can post a letter of unconditional love similar to this.’”
The website has had a lot of positive feedback from people who have both written and received letters. Two individuals who received letters were so moved by the experience that they offered to volunteer their time to being ambassadors for the site to get the word out so that others could be graced with the love and support of their friends and family as well.
“I wish the site had been around 10 years ago when I was struggling in coming out,” said Kevin Cabaniss, an ambassador for the site. “I needed to hear it was OK for me to be who I was. I needed to hear other parents struggles and acceptances with their children. I didn't have that at the time. To know now that the site can give that to even one person out there who's struggling makes the site a cornerstone for the LGBTQ community. If I can introduce the site to just one single person out there who is struggling, show them they're loved and perfect the way they are, then I've done my job.”
Johnny Follin (see in the lower left photo with his mom, Jennifer Woods of Murrieta, Calif.), the other ambassador for aNotetoMyKid.com, shares his fellow ambassador’s passion for the site and its message.
“One thing that really made an impact on me, was the response to my mother's note,” Follin said. “I received a large number of emails/comments from friends who were touched by my mom's words. I felt as though it helped facilitate a positive dialogue amongst my friends, and personalized ‘coming out’ to those who haven't directly experienced it.”
The letters have been coming in steadily since May and not just locally either. So far the website has received letters from as far away as Brazil, England, Canada and France.
The site recently added the option for letter senders to upload a YouTube video expressing their love and photos in addition to the standard letter format. If you know someone who is LGBT and you want to let them know how you feel, check out aNotetoMyKid.com and spread the love.
Video: An Update from aNoteToMyKid.com
Video: It Gets Better: a note to my kid's Patrick Wallace