Reflections, Resilience, & Resources

Happy New Year!

While we’re engaged in a moment of reflection, let’s take a moment to reflect upon how far the LGBTQ+ community has come on the path to being accepted as equals and acknowledged for the beautiful diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression that are represented.   Let’s also take a moment to acknowledge the brave LGBTQ+ folks who came before us, paving the way for us to live more openly and equally.  While it’s true that we still have a long way to go to achieve equal rights and overcome anti-gay and anti-transgender bias, it’s also true that we have come a long way toward achieving that goal, as this reflection of the following historical event in Los Angeles will demonstrate.

You may have heard of the Stonewall Riots in New York 50 years ago.  It’s a lesser known fact that two years before that, Los Angeles experienced its own uprising from the LGBTQ+ community.   On New Year’s Eve in 1966, a sting operation by undercover police officers targeted patrons of gay bars by arresting same-sex people who kissed at midnight.  As it was illegal at the time to engage in homosexual acts, including giving a New Year’s kiss to a loved one, an estimated 14 people were arrested from the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake. They were charged with lewd conduct, and many of them were forced to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.  Back then, with  arrests like these, pictures and names were often published in newspapers and could lead to LGBTQ+ people being legally fired from their jobs, ostracized by their families, or even placed in mental institutions and subjected to shock therapy.

Following this event, though, many members of the LGBTQ+ community decided to take a brave stand against such biased atrocities.  More than two hundred people ultimately gathered outside of the Black Cat to peacefully protest the police raids, risking losing their jobs, families, and friends by potentially being photographed by the papers.  The community had begun to risk everything to achieve basic rights that so many of us now take for granted.

Today, many of us enjoy the right to live openly, including being able to kiss a loved one on New Year’s Eve, without the fear of being arrested or placed in a mental institution.  We’ve come a long way as a community.  Even so, we could also use some individual support and assistance connecting to peer groups.  Many LGBTQ+ people still live in fear of losing loved ones or even facing violence simply for expressing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  Such fear often contributes to mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression, poor self-esteem, suicidality, and alcohol/substance misuse.

At Kaleidoscope, we understand these challenges and the associated impact on one’s mental and emotional health.  We  are here to help.  We offer an array of services, including individual therapy, group therapy, and individual coaching, as well as free social groups and events with peers and allies – all to help LGBTQ+ teens and young adults receive necessary support and improve their sense of well-being.  We also offer support for parents who are struggling with acceptance but want to become stronger allies for a LGBTQ+ loved one.   If you feel that you could benefit from any of these services, groups, or events, please reach out to us!

For more information about The Black Cat protest, we recommend reading this interview with Alexei Romanoff, the last surviving organizer of Personal Rights in Defense and Education (P.R.I.D.E.), one of the groups that helped stage the 1967 protest.

About the author

Bryan Scheihing is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who provides individual, group, and family therapy support with the Kaleidoscope program as well as working in the community to promote positive institutional support of LGBTQ+ individuals.  He has dedicated his professional life to helping provide affirmative support to members of the LGBTQ+ community by promoting awareness, acceptance, empowerment, and equality while also helping individuals realize their potential and achieve their goals.  Interested in receiving Kaleidoscope services?  Contact Bryan at bscheihing@thehelpgroup.org.