For many gay and lesbian Americans, 1992 was a year of historic change in politics and public discourse. For the first time, gay and lesbian issues were brought to the fore in a presidential election. Across the nation, statewide battles to end discrimination based on sexual orientation produced some hard-fought victories and some setbacks.
Amid that political climate, a UCLA alumna named Sheila Kuehl began co-producing and hosting a talk show called "Get Used to It," which would run until 2012. The series brought together advocates and allies for thoughtful conversations, delving into landmark legal cases and legislation, issues related to LGBTQ youth, race and racism, faith and spirituality, HIV/AIDS and much more.
Kuehl would go on to become the first openly gay or lesbian person elected to the California legislature, in 1994, and she has served as a Los Angeles County supervisor since 2014. She was named Edward A. Dixon UCLA Alum of the Year for 2022.
In a recent interview for the UCLA Film & Television Archive website, Kuehl recalled her vision for "Get Used to It."
"I did have a sense that something big was happening in the country," she said. "For the first time, we had a shot at being treated like full human beings. But we didn't know how it was going to turn out. I needed to record these people's stories because someday we were not going to be around. And I wanted to record, every month, what was going on in the movement and how it’s going, or not going — Supreme Court cases, things that were unknown to us at the time.
"I also wanted people to understand that nothing happens unless people do it and do it intentionally. There is no magic. There is no inevitability to a movement. Unless these people and others like them put in that energy, put in that thought, prepared that brief, led that demonstration, made that speech, wrote that book, whatever it was, we would not have moved forward."
Now, t’hanks to a collaboration between the City of West Hollywood, which originally broadcast the series on its public access channel, and the Archive, all 177 episodes of the series are available online. The collection also joins more than 41,000 other holdings in the archive’s Outfest UCLA Legacy Project collection, the largest public archive of LGBTQ motion pictures and television.
"I could not be more grateful to UCLA for doing this," Kuehl said. "I had no idea how the world would access these important stories, a part of history often not told because it was on the West Coast. So much national leadership came out of California. And yet, the stories that were being told were mostly from the East Coast. So, the show was a way to lift up the work that was being done here."
Read the full interview with Sheila Kuehl on the Archive website.