Posts Tagged :

LGBTQ+

Graciously Giving our Authentic Selves 495 400 cj

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

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

National Spirit Day 2019 495 400 cj

National Spirit Day 2019

National Spirit Day 2019

National Spirit Day was conceptualized in 2010 by a high school student, and has become an international movement of solidarity and support against bullying in the LGBTQ+ community. This year, our Kaleidoscope program invited The Help Group’s schools to participate in the 2019 National Spirit Day and spoke about the importance of fostering safe spaces for their LGBTQ+ youth.

Nationally, 7 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students reportedly experience harassment while at school. By inviting students, teachers, administrators, and staff to participate by wearing purple on October 17th, Kaleidoscope and The Help Group sent a strong message of support to the LGBTQ+ and allied students, while taking a firm stance against bullying.

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.

Sources:

  1. Reynolds, Daniel. “Report: Just One Accepting Adult Can Save an LGBTQ Young Person’s Life.” The Advocate. https://www.advocate.com/youth/2019/6/27/report-just-one-accepting-adult-can-save-lgbtq-young-persons-life
  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!