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Four Ways to Have an Uplifting Valentine’s Day 495 400 CJ Bourque

Four Ways to Have an Uplifting Valentine’s Day

Four Ways to Have an Uplifting Valentine's Day

As February begins, Kaleidoscope would like to make a spin on celebrating a month that is typically dedicated to a specific kind of love. Although the love we see in movies and TV shows  may be wonderful, we are looking beyond the association of Valentine’s Day with that type of love in order to celebrate connections of all kinds this month—with family, friends, community, school, hobbies, work, and others that we may even be unaware of.

At Kaleidoscope, our mission is to provide affirming support to LGBTQ+ teens, young adults, and their families. Our events and programming help build community and connection among people who support the LGBTQ+ community.

Four Ways to Have an Uplifting Valentine’s Day

In keeping with the theme of celebrating connections, Kaleidoscope would like to share the idea of having an uplifting Valentine’s Day. When we say uplifting, we propose considering the different kinds of people in your life, how you connect to them, and how you can express gratitude for their presence in your life. Oftentimes, we tend to focus on hoping that various forms of love come our way.  Actually, an amazing thing can happen when we shift our focus to the various forms of love that we can send out!  Our experience shows that when we take a moment of our time to contribute to someone else’s day in a positive way, we also feel good about ourselves.

  • A simple and thoughtful way of doing this is by giving a Thank You note or card to a teacher or a coworker for believing in you and being supportive (or in whichever way they have been helpful–the more specific the better!)
  • If you are in an environment with many people, another way to be a light in that context is to share a treat (extra points if you make it yourself) or candy with those in your surroundings.
  • Random acts of kindness can go tremendously far. Take the time to tell that person you see every day, but might not talk to or know well, that you like their shoes.
  • Making a list of at least five things about yourself that you like gives you time to reflect and recognize that you are a person worth love and care. If you have trouble with this, think back in time to something you did that helped someone else.

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, have a great month celebrating all the wonderful connections you have in your life!

Reflections, Resilience, & Resources 495 400 CJ Bourque

Reflections, Resilience, & Resources

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.

Graciously Giving our Authentic Selves 495 400 CJ Bourque

Graciously Giving our Authentic Selves

Graciously Giving our Authentic Selves

The holidays are here!  For most people, this is a time of gathering with family and friends and joining in the spirit of giving.  At Kaleidoscope, we recognize that one of the most valuable gifts we can give to others is being our authentic selves.  Most people want to be honest about who they are with the people who they love.  This isn’t always easy for someone who is LGBTQ+, though.  In fact, sometimes it may even be unsafe.  Research shows that 40 percent of homeless youth in Los Angeles (and nationally) identify as LGBTQ+ and many of them are homeless due to family rejection.  It’s easy to understand why revealing this part of oneself can be so frightening when it so often leads to negative responses or even being ostracized.

Are you a LGBTQ+ teen who’s wondering how to handle questions from loved ones during a holiday gathering like “Do you have a boyfriend?” when that question might not accurately reflect your sexual orientation or gender identity?  Perhaps you’re someone who is a strong ally of a LGBTQ+ youth in your family and you’re wondering how to be supportive?  Kaleidoscope is here to help!  It helps to consider such things beforehand and to have a plan in place.

For LGBTQ+ teens:  Consider what you’re willing to share with loved ones and what you’d rather keep to yourself at this time.  You may not be ready to be out to everyone (or even anyone) in your family – and that’s okay!  If you would like to share part of your LGBTQ+ identity and feel safe to do so, then it’s still a good idea to have in mind how much you feel comfortable sharing – and who you feel best sharing that with.  When adults ask you personal questions, it’s just because they’re trying to connect with you.  It’s okay to just say no to a question and then change the subject to something you do want to talk about.  In this way, you can still connect more comfortably.  Also, it’s a good idea to tell a friend that you may need their support via text during your family visit.  Allow yourself small breaks if you need them.  Remind yourself that this moment will pass and that your family may become more understanding and supportive over time.

For supportive allies:  Consider ahead of time how you may support your LGBTQ+ loved one around other family members who may not be as supportive.  If you’re hosting the party, perhaps it would be a good idea to lay some ground rules with relatives about what topics would best be avoided at the family gathering.  (Only if it’s safe to make such a request – we wouldn’t want to out anyone in this way.)  Maybe you and your LGBTQ+ loved one could have a code word together that they could express to you when they need some supportive help?   It’s also a good idea to consider what family traditions your family engages in and see which ones may need to be adapted a little to help your LGBTQ+ loved one feel more included.  If that’s not easy to do, then maybe it’s time to introduce a new family tradition instead.

It would be wonderful if the holidays actually went as smoothly as we would like them to go.  Most everyone has good intentions.  Most everyone wants to connect lovingly with their families and friends and be able to authentically be themselves.  Who knows?  Some families may even be able to do so without a hitch!  If your family is one that doesn’t, though, we hope that these suggestions help LGBTQ+ youth and young adults as well as their allies during the holidays.  Remember the importance of also creating a chosen community family as well, for additional needed social support.  If you would like to connect with LGBTQ+ peers or with other strong allies, please check out our Events page and see what upcoming free group or event would help you do just that! Kaleidoscope wishes you and your family safe and happy holidays!

A Kaleidoscope Challenge: Expressing Gratitude! 495 400 CJ Bourque

A Kaleidoscope Challenge: Expressing Gratitude!

A Kaleidoscope Challenge: Expressing Gratitude!

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it’s the perfect opportunity to focus on gratitude!

As members of the LGBTQ+ community (or perhaps as an ally,) it’s all too easy to be aware of the anti-gay and anti-transgender biases that LGBTQ+ folks face in our daily lives.  We experience them in community settings like school or work, through online bullying, by discriminating laws enacted by the government, and often maybe even in our own homes.  It’s good to be aware of it, because perhaps that will inspire us to work toward creating positive change, set healthy boundaries for ourselves, or join with others in safe spaces.  While we deal with it, though, it can be exhausting.  If you’re like me, it might make you sad just to think about it.

Let’s shift our attention for a moment away from those messages and focus on the affirming ones, instead.  Who in your life has demonstrated unconditional positive regard for you?  Do you have a friend who you can tell anything to without fear of judgment?  Does a teacher encourage you to be who you are in a safe space?  Do you get a friendly smile from your neighbor?   Do you have a dog who gets happy every time you come home?

Wayne Dyer said, “We expand what we focus on.”  What exactly does that mean?  It means that if we consciously choose to notice something, then we’ll notice it more often.  By doing so, the amount that we experience that thing will grow.

With that in mind, Kaleidoscope presents a challenge to you:  Make the conscious choice to notice three new things that you’re grateful for every day for a whole week.  It can be something major in your life, like your mom or a best friend, or it can be something minor, like the smell of fresh bread or feeling the grass between your toes.  Be on the lookout for what to be grateful for on any given day, then write those three things down in a Gratitude Journal or create a list on your phone.  If you do this, you will feel better by the end of the week than you did at the beginning.  Don’t believe me?  Try it!

If you really want to feel good, take a moment to express your gratitude to those around you that provide you with loving and affirming support.  Who knows – you might help make them feel better, too!

Kaleidoscope is offering a great opportunity for you to express your gratitude toward a person who has shown you affirming support in your LGBTQ+ identity.  In honor of Thanksgiving, we invite you to make a token of appreciation for a loved one who has been an ally to you in your LGBTQ+ identity.  This person can be anyone in your life – a family member, friend, teacher, therapist, or perhaps a coach.  Get creative and have fun while expressing your gratitude for their support.  You could make them a bracelet out of string, write them a poem, bake them a cupcake – whatever sounds fun and meaningful.  If you have trouble thinking of someone who has been an ally to you, please reach out to us.  We are happy to be your ally and we look forward to inviting you to our free social event groups where new friends will gladly celebrate who you are.

In fact, we are grateful for you!

Are you someone who’s interested in becoming an ally for an LGBTQ+ loved one?  Would you like to build upon the skills and knowledge that you already have as an ally?  On Nov. 15, 2019 in Sherman Oaks, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, Kaleidoscope is hosting a workshop training on LGBTQ+ themes – including considerations for those who are neurodivergent, such as being on the autism spectrum.  It’s an opportunity to learn new tools to be a more supportive and affirming ally.  Ask questions, receive information, resources, and support from licensed professionals and peers.  It’s never too late to become an ally or to improve upon your level of support.  We’re also here to support the supporters!  We’re grateful for you, too.

Download a Printable Gratitude Journal Worksheet

Kaleidoscope Pride! 400 300 CJ Bourque

Kaleidoscope Pride!

Kaleidoscope Pride!

It is with great excitement that we are launching the Kaleidoscope website, as we are thrilled to be able to reach more people and provide support.  It is also a happy coincidence that this launch coincides with LGBTQ+ Pride month!  We are certainly proud to be able to work with our LGBTQ+ youth and young adults and we also encourage them to feel proud of who they are.  Check out our Events page to find out where you and your families can show your support by attending Pride events this month.  You may encounter us at a Kaleidoscope booth when you do…  Please say hello!

What is the significance of showing LGBTQ+ Pride?  Perhaps in your own family, you’ve heard the question asked, “Why don’t people just keep that private?  I’m straight and I don’t feel the need to throw a parade about it.”

To address that question fully, we need to go back to the not-so-distant past… Straight, cisgender people were never thrown in jail for being born that way.  However, being LGBT was a criminal offense in California until 1975!  Until then, patrons of gay bars were often placed under arrest and their names were printed in local newspapers, leading to being fired from jobs and ostracized from families.  It was also a criminal offense to be in public wearing articles of clothing that did not “match” the gender on one’s identification!  It took acts of civil disobedience (basically, standing up and being proud of who we are in the face of intense opposition) to change laws and be treated more equally.

This struggle for equality continues to this day.  And to be seen, we must be visible.  In battling a 1978 proposition that would make it legal for teachers suspected of being LGBT in California to be fired, Harvey Milk shouted the battle cry “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”  Today, we understand that coming out is a challenging and ongoing process that must be done safely at the own pace of each individual.  For those who are safely able to, however, standing up and being seen and affirmed for who we are can be an incredibly empowering act.  And it helps others to be able to do the same.

Perhaps Artem Kolesov said it best:  “We don’t come out for heterosexual people to know.  We don’t come out for the ones who hate us to know.  We shout and make as much noise as possible just so other people like us who are scared and can’t be themselves would know that they are not a mistake and they are not alone.”

At Kaleidoscope, we hope to help you see that – although you are beautifully unique – you are not alone.  Whether you are able to express who you are to just one supportive person or to the world from atop a parade float, you bring your own colorful expression to this world.  You are special.  We are here to support you.  We are proud to stand with you.  In fact, at Kaleidoscope, we are proud of you!