In the last ten to fifteen years, the term “coming out” has evolved. Mainstream media has instituted the phrase as common vocabulary for the everyday. While it may be better understood, the processes remains one of the most difficult times for both kids and parents. Yet, with the changing perspectives, parents are taking a more pro-active stance on ensuring their children know it’s OK to be who they want to be.
aNoteToMyKid.com was launched in 2011 by Michael Volpatt and Patrick Wallace of San Diego to “provide parents of LGBT and questioning youth, or any parent for that matter, with a platform for expressing unconditional love.” The site devotes itself to letters written by parents who’s only intention is to pour love and support on to their children. After Michael and Patrick’s own personal “coming out” experiences, they wanted a safe place for families to know that they are not the only one going through the learning process. Some letters are breathtakingly honest, while others are incredibly emotional– all 100% inspirational.
The Everyday Gay Guide, Byron Flitsch, chatted with the site creator duo to learn more about the incredible project.
The Everyday Gay: When did you start aNoteToMyKid.com and what inspired it?
aNoteToMyKid.com: We officially launched in June 2011. It was a culmination of events that inspired us to create the site. One – the love and support our parents have shown us over the years has been tremendous and we wanted to find a way to make it simple for other parents to share their unconditional love for their children. Two – we wanted to give parents who may not know how to broach the subject of sexuality the opportunity to learn from example and hopefully find the inspiration they need to initiate a very important conversation with their child. And three – to remind members of our LGBTQ community that there really is a lot of love and support out there. The single event that really got the conversation going about what would become aNoteToMyKid.com was this: Michael posted a note from his mom on Facebook that communicated how positive her experience has been having a gay son. The letter was written for a mom who had just recently found out about her son being gay. We ended up having a conversation about the letter shortly after Michael posted it on Facebook and immediately decided that we need to create a site where parents of LGBTQ children, or any parent for that matter, could write similar letters professing their unconditional love and support for their children.
E.G: We are blown away from some of the letters from parents of LGBT youth! How do you find the parents to write them?
ANTMK: We’ve been around for only two short months now so in the very beginning it was important for us to get the word out to our friends, family and acquaintances. We created a Facebook fan page and began sending out emails to everyone we could think of. We also posted notes on the walls of celebs like Lady Gaga, RuPaul, Sir Ian McKellan and many others in hopes that their Facebook fans might help us spread the word. Thus far, word of mouth has served us quite well. People really get what we’re doing our best to achieve. We’ve also been fortunate to have the support of San Diego City Commissioner, Nicole Murray Ramirez, Big Mike Phillips – a local San Diego gay rights advocate – and the Imperial Court, an international gay rights organization that has not only helped us spread the word about the good work we’re trying to achieve, but has also generously donated the funds necessary to turn aNoteToMyKid.com into an official non-profit organization.
E.G: The project seems to focus on being a support system for children, but could also be for other parents dealing with their child’s sexuality. Was that ever your intention?
ANTMK: Absolutely. We both have friends who have incredibly supportive parents and others who are still coming to grips with their child’s sexuality. It’s our hope that those parents who are having a challenging time loving their child unconditionally will learn from the letters posted on aNoteToMyKid.com and ultimately find it in their hearts to be an accepting and loving parent.
E.G: What was your coming out process like? How did you parent’s reactions affect this project?
Michael: Coming out to my parents wasn’t easy. They needed time to process the news. One thing I learned during my coming out process was that parents have a coming out process of their own. I expected them to embrace me with open arms, but understanding what it meant to have a gay son took them some time. I now have a very loving relationship with both of my parents and my entire family.
Patrick: When I told my parents I was gay they were completely taken by surprise. I was living in Portland, Oregon at the time and my dad flew up from San Diego to talk to me about it. We went to a local coffee shop and cried pretty hard. Oprah probably would have called it “the ugly cry” at times, but it was a positive therapeutic experience for both of us. We got a lot out that day. Today I have an outstanding open and honest relationship with my parents. I consider myself very fortunate. You’ll notice that some of the letters featured on aNoteToMyKid.com are written by parents of very young children — a few are written for infants even. Their parents wanted to stand up and say immediately that no matter who you choose to love, I will ALWAYS love you. Could you imagine receiving a letter like this as a child? To grow up knowing wholeheartedly that your parents will love you no matter who you choose to love has got to be a pretty empowering feeling.
E.G: Where do you see this project going in the future? We smell a potential book!
ANTMK: We’ve talked quite a bit about what the future may hold for aNoteToMyKid.com. It’s always fun and inspirational to think of all the different ways we might be able to make an even greater impact. Right now we’re really focusing on spreading the word about the site so we can reach our ultimate goal of posting one new letter from a loving parent every day. The best way for us to spread love is by giving loving parents a platform to speak from their hearts. That’s our purpose.