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Pursuit of Equality 495 400 cj

Pursuit of Equality

Pursuit of Equality

Imagine that you’re at work and your boss calls you to her office.  You hope it might be regarding a raise or promotion, because you know that your work has been exemplary and your peers and supervisors recognize it.  Instead, your boss says that- although you are great at your job – she just doesn’t approve of who you’ve been dating.  “Not that it’s interfering with your work at all, but I just don’t think it’s right.  I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to let you go.”  You’re shocked.  She must be kidding, right?  Or, if she’s not, surely this is illegal discrimination that an email to HR could fix?  This couldn’t be a legal reason to fire someone in America – right?

Up until last month, this was actually a legal reason for an employer to fire someone in over half of the states in our country – if the person being fired was LGBTQ+.  In fact, two instances of this occurring resulted in lawsuits that went all the way to the Supreme Court and were settled by this national ruling.  Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ+ people are protected from job discrimination as equally as their heterosexual, cisgender co-workers.

The path to achieving rights and freedoms that most Americans take for granted is not an easy one for many marginalized minority groups.   James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, noted that, “The Supreme Court’s clarification that it’s unlawful to fire people because they’re LGBTQ is the result of decades of advocates fighting for our rights.”

The fact that it has been legal for employers to fire an employee in the workplace simply because they didn’t approve of their sexual orientation or gender identity is an example of systemic oppression.  What is the impact of such oppression and related messaging on LGBTQ+ youth?  Many forms of systemic oppression are supported on a national level and intensified on social media, only to be internalized by LGBTQ+ youth.  Daniel Reynolds writes in The Advocate that “Minority stress – created by stigma, discrimination, bullying, or a perception of bias – is credited as the main detractor to the mental health of LGBTQ youth.”

Imagine the impact of hearing and then internalizing anti-LGBTQ+ messages not only in community settings, national policies, and through social media, but in your own home.  Would you enjoy the freedom of being authentically yourself in such environments, or would you pretend to be someone you’re not and silently suffer for it?  Would you isolate and use maladaptive coping mechanisms out of fear of rejection?  Once you recognize the impact of these rejecting messages on so many levels, it’s easy to understand how LGBTQ+ youth might experience depression or anxiety as a result, numb themselves with drugs or alcohol, and even consider taking their own lives to avoid such pain.

As we fight to stop systemic oppression, we must also counter all of these anti-LGBTQ+ messages with affirming ones as much as possible!  A research study by San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project found that reacting to LGBTQ+ youth with accepting statements and behaviors (rather than rejecting ones) leads to positive mental health outcomes, including higher self-esteem, as well as closer relationships with family members and better overall health.

This month, we celebrate the freedom and rights that we enjoy as Americans.  This year, for the first time, we may all celebrate the right to not be fired from our place of employment simply for who we love or who we are.  Another right has been recognized on our path toward equality – and we will continue our efforts to secure more.  In the meantime, Kaleidoscope offers safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults to meet virtually online, to give and receive the affirming support that the world may not always provide in a space where they have the freedom to joyfully be themselves.  Please check out our free online social support groups as well as Telehealth services, such as individual therapy, and let the supportive healing begin.

Pride With No Parade 495 400 cj

Pride With No Parade

Pride With No Parade

In its 50th year, the LA Pride Parade has been postponed indefinitely.  How can this be?  With all of the oppression that the LGBTQ+ community has faced, it’s hard to comprehend that something is preventing us from participating in a cultural tradition that is based on defiant freedom.  How do we stay in to celebrate Pride, when what we’re celebrating is synonymous with Coming Out?

Whether we are LGBTQ+ or not, we are in an incredibly challenging chapter in our lives.  One with loss, uncertainty, confusion, and fear.  Many of our usual methods of coping are currently unavailable to us.  Communities of support aren’t accessible to us in person.  Our means of financial support may be in jeopardy or even gone.   We’re living in fear of losing our loved ones.  Many lives have tragically been lost.

Of course, this is not the first time that the LGBTQ+ community has faced a devastating challenge such as this.  For many, this current experience is bringing back tragic memories of the horrific AIDS epidemic.  There was fear, unimaginable suffering and heartbreaking loss.  The disease seemed to be targeting the LGBTQ+ community specifically and that only fanned the flames of anti-gay and anti-transgender sentiment in society, expressed through policies from administrations and violence in the streets.  Along with grieving this past, though, we can also learn from it – and have an awareness of positive aspects that emerged from it, to give us the hope that we need now.

In a recent press conference regarding the impact of COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci also drew a parallel to the AIDS epidemic and the resilience of what is now known as the LGBTQ+ community.  He recalled that, “During that time, there was extraordinary stigma, particularly against the gay community.  And it was only when the world realized how the gay community responded to this outbreak with incredible courage and dignity and strength and activism — I think that really changed some of the stigma against the gay community, very much so.”  As head of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, Dr. Fauci was responsible for developing medications to treat HIV/AIDS at the height of the epidemic.

Thankfully, the devastating hardships connected to the AIDS epidemic also inspired qualities of strength in the LGBTQ+ community that became embedded in our conception and expression of pride.  Compassion.  Love.  Unity.  Resilience.  These are only some of the principles that are now weaved into the very meaning of LGBTQ+ pride, similar to the colors that comprise the rainbows of our flags –  and the spectrums of kaleidoscopes!

So, are we able to have pride without a parade?  Absolutely!  The principles of pride are internal ones that we carry with us, always.

Let’s draw upon those principles now.   We may not be able to meet in the street to march and celebrate, but we are able to connect virtually until we may once more do so in person.  At Kaleidoscope, we support the revision of the term “Social Distancing” to “Physical Distancing,” because we are able to connect socially while remaining safely physically distanced.

We invite you to join us in this social connection and pride celebration!   Meet us in one (or more) of Kaleidoscope’s free online LGBTQ+ social support groups!  There are many such groups to choose from.  Simply choose one or more that interest you and represent your age group.  Then, click on the link to register.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Pride Club for Ages 11 – 13

Connect virtually with other LGBTQIA+ youth ages 11 – 13 and their allies through creative activities, games, discussions, & hanging out.

Varsity Pride Club for Ages 14 – 17

Connect virtually with other LGBTQIA+ teens ages 14 – 17 and their allies through creative activities, games, discussions, & hanging out.

Young Adult Coffee Chat & Support

Young adults (ages 18-24) of the LGBTQIA+ community are invited to join Kaleidoscope online for an afternoon of meeting peers, getting resources, and feeling connected.

Creative Expressions

LGBTQIA+ youth (ages 11-17) and their allies are encouraged to bring an original creation, whether it be something written, a song, a dance or a piece of art – that is appropriate to share with others.

Movie Night for Young Adults!

Grab a snack and join our movie watch party featuring LGBTQIA+ representation and storylines. Ages 18 – 24.

Movie Night for Teens

Grab a snack and join our movie watch party featuring LGBTQIA+ representation and storylines. Ages 12-17.

Considering LGBTQ+ Independence and Freedom 400 300 cj

Considering LGBTQ+ Independence and Freedom

Considering LGBTQ+ Independence and Freedom

July is a time when we contemplate and celebrate our independence and freedoms.  What do those words mean to you?  We could consider them in both broad and personal terms.  How are these values expressed in your daily life?  Are you living an independent life?  Are you free to be the person who you are inside?  Let’s take a moment to examine what they may mean to someone who identifies as LGBTQ+.

Beginning with a broader consideration, many states outside of California still do not allow LGBT people the same rights as heterosexual, cisgender people, such as employers maintaining the legal authority to fire an employee for no other reason than the suspicion of them being gay or transgender.  Some school administrations do not make accommodations for transgender students.  Despite the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association’s condemnation of conversion therapy (interventions based on the false premise of being able to change one’s sexual orientation,) many states still allow the harmful practice.  These are only a few examples of why the fight for LGBT freedom from such oppression continues on a broad level.

This systemic oppression is often supported on a national level, intensified on social media, and then internalized by LGBTQ youth.  In fact, Daniel Reynolds writes in The Advocate that “Minority stress – created by stigma, discrimination, bullying, or a perception of bias – is credited as the main detractor to the mental health of LGBTQ youth.”   Imagine the impact of internalizing these anti-gay and anti-transgender messages not only in community settings and through social media, but in your own home.  How many of us might be afraid to be ourselves in such environments, for fear of rejection?  How many of us might experience depression or anxiety, as a result, numb ourselves with drugs or alcohol, or even consider taking our own lives to avoid such pain?

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 in the U.S. seriously consider suicide each year and that at least 693,000 LGBTQ youth aged 19–24 in the U.S. seriously consider suicide each year.  However, recent surveys conducted by The Trevor Project with over 25,000 LGBTQ young people indicate hopeful news.  The results indicate that having just one accepting adult in their lives, whether it’s a parent, family member, or someone else entirely, can reduce the risk of an LGBTQ youth attempting suicide by 40 percent. That’s cutting the risk almost in half, just because of one supportive person in that person’s life.  What makes this study particularly significant is that it shows that the support could come from outside the youth’s family and still have a healing impact on their mental health enough to reduce suicide attempts so drastically.

Kaleidoscope provides affirming support not only for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, but for their families, teachers, counselors, caregivers, and others in their lives to be able to increase the level of support that they provide.  We want youth and young adults to have the freedom to be themselves fully as they learn the skills necessary to lead independent lives.  With this freedom, a sense of positive wellbeing is developed and nurtured.  The broad national fight for equality carries on.  In the meantime, let’s recognize the importance of helping our LGBTQ+ youth and young adults develop their own independence through personal freedom, as well.


  1. Reynolds, Daniel. “Report: Just One Accepting Adult Can Save an LGBTQ Young Person’s Life.” The Advocate.
  2. The Trevor Project (2019). National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health. New York, New York: The Trevor Project.
Kaleidoscope Pride! 400 300 cj

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!