By Kathy Baldock
aNotetoMyKid.com is a grassroots movement to publicly express love and support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (glbt) people in our lives .aNotetoMyKid was created by Patrick Wallace and Michael Volpatt in 2011 as a space for the friends and families of the glbt people to share their unconditional love .
You can join in the love and encouragement-giving with a note, a photo or video. Send a letter or photo, or the upload address of your video on youtube, to co- creator Patrick Wallace atPatrick@anotetomykid.com.
As part of the “Give a Gift of Love” campaign for the holiday at aNotetoMyKid , I submitted my video about my best friend, Netto Montoya. She is the person that God used to make me sensitive to, and eventually an advocate for the gay and trans community.
My home is at the edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Nevada, a short drive from Lake Tahoe. With such close proximity to hiking trails, I have had a two-decade daily routine of hiking. It was on one of my daily walks in the fall of 2001, that I ran into Netto whom I’d seen occasionally on the trails. One day, I asked if she minded if I turned around and walked in her direction for a while.
And, Netto and I became hiking buddies. The second time we hiked, I walked back to her truck and spotted a key ring with rainbow colored metal rings on it hanging from the rear view mirror of her truck. “Hmmm”, I wondered, “is she gay?”
It never came up as a topic of discussion for almost a year. I was conscious of the language she used : “partner” and other non-male-boyfriend terms, but I respected her privacy. My traditional Evangelical faith had caused ingrained beliefs about gay people and it took time for me to work through them.
We hiked hundreds of miles more in the coming years. In openness and trust, I found a person who answered all my questions about lesbianism. As dumb a question that you might imagine, I asked; I knew nothing. Never offended, nor secretive, Netto answered me.
I can still remember absolutely vividly, where we were on a trail when she told me she was going to a lesbian RV camp out and looked forward to it as the “only place where she felt safe”. “Safe?” I wondered, I always felt safe. She said that society let her know she was the “lowest of the low” being a woman, a Native American and a lesbian. “Even God doesn’t love me,” she said.
It actually physically hurt that my friend would be viewed and treated in this manner. Everything stopped inside me as I considered how she must feel living in a world that was loving, accepting and comfortable to me. In that moment, on that patch of dirt, a shift happened. I got a glimpse into the pain caused by “my side” towards “her side”. Right there, God flipped a switch in me of compassion towards the gay community. And, God used Netto Montoya to accomplish it.