Co-President's Report
Bonnie A. Jacobs, Ph.D, ABPP

I remember Stonewall. I remember the lack of interest shown by the people of NY when the Everard Baths burned and men in need of medical care and blood were ignored and humiliated. I marched for gay rights and equal rights. I remember what it was like when LGBT people were afraid to go into queer bars let alone hold hands and kiss on the streets. I remember the fear because I was one of those who was afraid, even after Stonewall. I look at LGBT teens now and I am jealous that they can do what I could not at their age: be themselves. This is not to say that these teens have it easy, or that people of any age have an easy time of coming out. As much as times have changed, as they say, much remains the same. Women and the LGBT populations are still fighting for equal rights and we are being met with strong opposition. I have faith in the younger generations openness to people regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Unfortunately, they are not yet the policy and lawmakers so we need to continue fighting for equality and helping our clients cope with the issues they face living as LGBT people every day.

As I reflect and consider past times and issues, I wonder if the lack of member participation and involvement in LAGPA is partly due to the fact that many of you do not remember the harder times? Perhaps many of you do remember and are burned out on actively trying to change the society in which we live (Ill send a check). I believe we still have a great deal to do, and many problems to face as individuals and a community, in order for us to achieve equality. There is a huge right wing/ antigay backlash in this country that is attempting to deny us our rights. Do you care? Do you care about the impact that is having on your clients and their families? Do you realize that LAGPA would not, and could not, have existed pre- Stonewall and may cease to exist now if the membership does not become more involved? As educated people, LAGPA members have the ability to inform others about ourselves, our rig s and mental health issues. We could do more as an organization to influence politicians and communities. For LAGPA to do more, members need to become more active within the organization. I have been saying this and writing about it in every issue of the P.N. since becoming Co-President. However, even if LAGPA does not do more then it is doing now, it will continue to do less and less as fewer people join the Board, volunteer for committees or attend the CE workshops, and those of us currently on the Board burn out.

At the November Board meeting, the new Board was approved. When the time came to elect the new executive committee, I did not initially accept the nomination for Co-President. Jim Michael, MA was willing to be the other Co-President and now holds that position. Until November there was no other Co-President; there was only me and I was overworked. No Board member or person from the general membership was willing to take the position. Some past Board members took on a great deal of responsibility, did not follow through, failed to tell anyone that they could not complete the tasks until the last minute and left a novice Board with huge problems (some of which continue to this day) and angry members. While we all scrambled to clean up the mess, all we heard from members were complaints; few offered to help.

Once again I am considering resigning as Co-President of LAGPA. I have been thinking about this for the past year. I find I am continually annoyed or angry when LAGPA issues need to be dealt with. My friends keep asking, If you are so annoyed, why dont you quit? Good question! (Of course many of my friends are shrinks so they ask good questions.) I thought about it. I meditated. After introspecting and talking my friends ears off, I realized I was still on the LAGPA Board and still the Co-President because I believe the LGBT community needs LAGPA. However, I am not sure my mental health needs LAGPA. I am continually fascinated by the fact that an organization made up of people who are supposed to have empathy and good communication skills fail to use those skills when talking with or emailing Board Members (none of whom get paid for LAGPA work). I often hear from members, directly and indirectly, things like: Oh they are still disorganized. Why doesnt LAGPA have a continuing education seminar on X. How come you havent updated my information yet. You know this group does X, why doesnt LAGPA do it? My question is, Where are all of the members who want more from the organization but choose not to volunteer for the Board or committees?

Often members and some Board members have volunteered and have taken on responsibilities, then failed to complete the task or follow through. We do not need those types of volunteers. The Board is made up of volunteers, all of whom have to work to support themselves and all of whom would like to have personal lives. LAGPA is the largest LGBT psychotherapy organization in the country yet the membership fails itself by not volunteering to help. I know I cannot continue to take up as much of my time as has been required to make sure this organization runs the way it should. Although the Board consists of ten members, it should have 20. There are not enough people to do everything that needs to be done. Further, the Board Members cannot be the only ones to attend the continuing education seminars if we are to continue to have them. We have solicited suggestions from you as to what seminars you would like us to arrange. Having done that, your participation is necessary for it to be worth the time and money to put the seminars. It is also difficult for us to maintain credibility with speakers if we cannot get an audience. Although the BBS now allows MFTs and LCSWs to obtain all of their CEUs via distance learning (provided it is submitted electronically), distance learning cannot help you socialize or network and likely will not provide courses on LGBT issues.

I would like to thank Beatriz Gandara, MFT and Ellen Snortland for opening their home for our annual holiday party. If you didnt attend, you missed a great Mexican theme party including Mariachis and a pinata. I would also like to thank Joni Lavick, MFT for her continued support and assistance to the organization. Thanks to Deborah DiGiovanni, the new newsletter editor/coordinator; without her you would not be reading this newsletter (or using it to line your birdcage, as the case may be). Thanks to Paula Newman, PsyD who continues as our fearless treasurer. We do not have a secretary at this time.

So now that it is a new year we all have a chance to make new choices (of course we always have that opportunity but milestones are important). My choice is to continue delegating, not agree to take on more responsibility, get seminars approved for MCEP and BBS credit, coordinate and let go when I have done that. If people do not volunteer for tasks or fail to complete them, so be it. I will decide whether or not to remain in the delegating position within the next few months. Your choices include joining the Board or volunteering for a committee, attending seminars and paying dues. The Board can remain at the size it is and fewer activities can be arranged as a result, or you can join the Board and volunteer for committees. The next Board meeting will be in February. Check the internet for details (www.lagpa.org). You can attend the continuing education seminars (see the calendar in this issue) and RSVP (see form) for each, or we can have fewer seminars and cancel those for which we do not have enough advanc registrants. Basically, the membership can vote with its feet, respond to questionnaires or watch LAGPA become a memory like the Stonewall. Who knows, someday someone may be writing an article and asking, Why isnt there a LGBT psychotherapy organization?