Updated: Jan 17

In alignment with our Mission of promoting a safer and inclusive San Gabriel Valley for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, we release this statement to emphasize that we do not stand for any hate in the SGV.

On this, the fifth day of 2021, we also want to hold space for Kimberly Patricia Cope, the first reported trans death of the year. We vow to acknowledge the world we live in. We are taking a small step towards acknowledgment of our own community by mourning this tragic loss, and also by noting that there are more than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ people living in California and understanding that the safety of LGBTQ+ people is a basic human right. We understand that cultivating a safe and inclusive environment means we feel a responsibility to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community to the El Monte City Council in the hopes of building a foundation of respect and education that is needed for the future of LGBTQ+ bodies.

As a community center, our work is built on a basis of respect and advocacy for LGBTQ+ bodies in the San Gabriel Valley. We want to acknowledge that the current spotlight on El Monte is not a singular moment, but rather a tipping point that highlights both a blindspot and cements why change is needed in 2021. With 350 trans people killed/murdered in 2020, and 43 of these based in the USA, it is necessary that the advocacy for our basic human rights is acknowledged and acted upon now, more than ever, in the San Gabriel Valley. Today, in the harsh face of LGBTQ+ hate, we understand that promoting our community’s own well being requires us to be proactive and committed. Our team builds this bridge as a call-in to the community at-large to address the state of LGBTQ+ affairs amongst our peers.

The volunteers of our organization want to emphasize that building LGBTQ+ competency means embracing cultural diversity and allowing for the growth of your own personal potential. This is a value similar to that of the City of El Monte’s mission statement. Allowing hate speech to continue calls into question the allyship of elected officials. To ask for visible allyship from our elected officials in support of an already marginalized group is not a rare ask — but today marks a pivotal point in the conversation surrounding LGBTQ+ citizens of El Monte, will their city actively stand with them? One of the seven values is ethical behavior; as a Center we want to highlight that there is a fine line between Hate Speech and a Hate Crime, however, rhetoric often leads to action. Is a community that is violent towards women and the LGBTQ+ community the future that you imagine for El Monte?

We leave you with two action steps tonight: One, have all elected and appointed officials within the city of El Monte attend the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ+ Center’s Safe Space Training, allowing professional and public officials such as yourselves gain a better understanding of addressing concepts and language regarding LGBTQ+ communities. This will increase the community’s comfort level and expand understanding. Two, implement an ad-hoc committee (appropriately vetted) creating a Statement of LGBTQ+ Equality from the City of El Monte. We are seeing LGBTQ+ support every day in the SGV and we are looking forward to El Monte’s showing of support. Just last June the city of Duarte released a proclamation in honor of Pride Month and it is through these practices of accompliceship that we can build a just and safe future together.

With Hope and Unity,

The Board of Directors

San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ+ Center

El Monte City Council Statement
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By: Kristen Pinchbeck

We all had big hopes for what 2020 would bring. We all were thinking we could get to capture some of the excitement and fun from the Roaring 20’s, but what we didn’t realize was that it was going to be a virus roaring through our world instead of all of us out dancing in flapper dresses.

While we were all sheltered in place Marie Kondoing our closets, baking bread, standing in line for toilet paper, or more realistically binge watching our favorite shows (shout out to the Office and Schitt’s Creek) there were some notable developments in our little corner of the world.

In the midst of the social unrest of the summer, Duarte announced they would now start recognizing Pride month with a Pride parade when it is safe to do so.

We also all learned new ways of connecting with friends and family throughout the year. The SGV LGBTQ center moved our group meetings to zoom, or successfully had small meet ups that complied with social distancing regulations. We also got some new volunteers, myself included, and are looking for ways that we can continue to grow the center in new and necessary ways so that it is a welcoming space for our community.

In November after a very tense election season, America elected herself a new president! President Elect, Joe Biden, has a proven record of caring for the LGBTQIA+ community and has already committed to passing legislation to help our community. He has also already named Pete Buttigege to a cabinet position as his cabinet secretary. Also in November, a record number of LGBT candidates were elected across the country from local mayors, all the way up to Sarah McBride being elected as a trans-woman to the Senate.

December had some big events too in 2020. The American Red Cross limited deferral for the Men who have Sex with Men clause to 3 months rather than 1 year. This was huge, and in many other countries this clause was abolished this year. This gives us some hope that this homophobic clause will be reformed permanently in the US. Also in December, at the UK Faith conference, almost 400 global religious leaders from 35 countries called for end to conversion therapy and an end to the ban on same sex relationships. The leaders at this conference acknowledged the ways in which the church has hurt the LGBTQ community and hopes to move forward in a more lovinging and accepting direction. This is huge for the future of the LGBTQ community because we don’t even realize how many laws and how much hatred is handed to our communities at the hands of some harmful religious zealots.

This year also saw the first openly gay couple in a Hallmark movie. Hallmark is a historically extremely conservative channel, so it was huge that they featured their first openly gay couple, even if it was only in a supporting role. Hulu also debuted a lesbian centered holiday movie, although it was not the best.

On The Other Side of the Coin

On the other side of the coin, 2020 was one of the worst years many of us have ever experienced in our lifetime.

  • 2020 saw record unemployment rates;

  • Over 20 million people tested positive for COVID-19, and over 350,000 have died in the US alone;

  • Hospitals were completely overrun with sick people which led to massive amounts of deaths as well as severe trauma to the medical staff that we haven’t even begun to see the results of;

  • Grocery store shortages as people started hoarding;

  • Depression and anxiety rates soared;

  • We saw a rise in Fascist, anti-semetic, and other hate groups in our nation;

  • Russia and other countries voted for constitutional bans on same sex marriage continuing the discrimination and danger for LGBTQ individuals worldwide;

  • The Trump administration rolled back healthcare protections for transgender americans;

  • Due to supposed election fraud and election insecurity, Georgia is in a runoff and can hopefully change the Senate majority;

  • and in our own backyard, Montclair elected themselves a new, very anti-LGBTQ mayor.

It has been hard to remember the good things that have happened this year, when we have been sitting under the crushing weight of all the bad. 2020 brought such a deep, bone tired exhaustion to pretty much everyone as we all faced fear, uncertainty, and hardships of our own. But, even with all the bad, we all learned enough in 2020 to help us see a better way through 2021.

I don’t know about you but, after doing some of my own personal reflection for the dumpster fire that was 2020, I realized that it was a personally huge year for me. It was the year I got to know myself, the year I learned how to set boundaries (this is still a work in progress), and the year I started living into my own truth rather than what I thought I had to be to fit everyone else’s expectations.

If you want to move through 2021 in a mindful way with other people who are trying to effect change in their community, connect with other LGBTQ+ friends in your area, and want to help make the world a better place as we move forward as more aware individuals, reach out to us here at the SGV LGBTQ center!

Join our volunteer group, sign up for a peer group, follow us on Instagram and Facebook, or dip your toe in the water by reaching out. There is a place here for you, and you are welcome! Be kind to yourself :)

By: Kristen Pinchbeck

Like many Americans this Thanksgiving, I opted out of the big family gathering and decided to stay home for a quiet day at home with my girlfriend. After a long morning of loud neighbors and emotions about not being with our families for Thanksgiving, we finally settled in to watch Happiest Season, which we had been looking forward to for weeks. We expected this to be Hulu’s equivalent to an LGBT Hallmark movie about our lesbian life, but we could not have been more wrong.

I expected the next 102 minutes to be hilarious, uplifting, and start the train of Christmas joy in our home. Instead, I was cringing as we were thrown right back into the closet we just came out of two months ago when my girlfriend came out to her family. It was hard to feel any holiday joy while I was having heart palpitations and flashbacks to visiting my girlfriend’s family before she had come out to them. For anyone who has spent any time in the closet, this movie will bring up all kinds of triggers.

One of the most triggering parts of the movie was the complete absence of any boundaries in the relationships of all of the characters. Families often send mixed messages when it comes to boundaries, but they can be very important to establish when you visit family as an adult.

Navigating the holiday season is challenging for a lot of people, whether you are fully out and proud or still in the closet. As someone who just took their first visit as an out couple to their partner’s family home (after almost two years of being together and making several trips to visit her family while still being in the closet), I have a few suggestions on how to set boundaries for you and your relationship.

Boundary Tips

  • Remember that you are your biggest supporter and get to choose what you do, who you do it with, and when you do these things.

  • For example, If your partner wants to go shopping with their mom, it is ok to say you want to stay home and read your book (even if you don’t actually read the book).

  • Know your triggers and prepare for them.

  • For example, if you know that extremely gendered religious language is triggering for you, remember to breathe and understand that this is the only language your family, or your partner’s family knows and not a personal attack on you.

  • Remember to use “I” statements when discussing your boundaries to make your family more receptive.

  • (Instead of “you guys are draining and I need some alone time” try “I am feeling a little tired and need to: go take a nap, shower, read a book, etc.)

  • If you are in a relationship, make sure you and your partner go into the trip to see the family as a united front. Have clear set expectations and some boundaries you want for your relationship.

  • This could look like telling your partner that you need to take a walk with them every day to get some alone time, or deciding what level of PDA you are comfortable with in front of the family.

  • Make sure to still practice self care both for yourself and as a couple, especially around family that can be draining

  • Go for a walk

  • Meditate

  • Read a book

  • Take a shower

  • Take a nap

  • Go for a drive if there are no other quiet options

  • Drink water in between glasses of wine or cups of coffee

  • Remember what you are thankful for, gratitude helps stop the spinning

Boundaries in the Time of Covid

It is also worth mentioning that boundaries may look a little different in this time of Covid. It is important to address what your holiday will look like with your family before getting together.

Some important things to discuss with your family and friends could be:

  • What have your activities over the last 7-10 days looked like including work, travel, personal engagements, shopping trips, etc?

  • Do you wear a mask correctly on a regular basis?

  • Will we be wearing masks and social distancing when we gather?

  • Will we be inside or outside? And if we are inside, will there be air ventilation?

  • What do meals look like? Will we all bring our own or have a sanitizing station before serving ourselves?

  • If I don’t feel comfortable gathering in person, can we do a zoom or facetime gathering?

Navigating family can be tricky, and navigating family during a pandemic can be even trickier. Hopefully, these few suggestions will help you stay safe, happy, and healthy this holiday season. I hope your holiday does not include the toxic family drama of Happiest Season, but if it does, know that you are not alone and that there are ways you can improve your situation by adding some boundaries.

Be kind to yourself, set your boundaries, respect other people’s boundaries, and have a happy Holiday season!

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