Li­brary pro­motes ac­cep­tance through com­mu­nity event

Speak­ers dis­cuss healthy relationships and cop­ing strate­gies

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com

The Charles County Public Li­brary held its LGBTQ Day of Un­der­stand­ing Satur­day, an event fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing healthy relationships of all kinds.

A hand­ful of in­trigued ci­ti­zens gath­ered at the Wal­dorf West Branch for a pair of pre­sen­ta­tions, one by li­censed ther­a­pist Becca Pinck­ney and an­other by Char­ity Paul of the Cen­ter for Abused Per­sons (CAP). The gath­er­ing marked the third it­er­a­tion of the event, held this year dur­ing LGBT Pride Month.

Pinck­ney opened the pro­ceed­ings with a di­a­logue about build­ing emo­tional strength and over­com­ing so­cial pres­sures in to­day’s cli­mate. The ther­a­pist from BLOOM Well­ness LLC uti­lized a Pow­er­Point slideshow which fea­tured a graphic ti­tled “The

Gen­der­bread Per­son,” a pic­to­rial rep­re­sen­ta­tion of gen­der qual­i­ties. The chart in­cluded slid­ing scales for at­trac­tion, ex­pres­sion, iden­tity and sex, with ar­rows point­ing to the cor­re­spond­ing ar­eas of a car­toon ginger­bread cookie.

“This is a help­ful tool to use when you’re try­ing to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ences be­tween all of th­ese things, and also within your­self, be­cause it is a process for peo­ple to go through,” Pinck­ney said.

After de­tail­ing each as­pect of the gen­der anal­y­sis, Pinck­ney ex­plained the process is fluid. The char­ac­ter­is­tics of one’s self can shift and change de­pend­ing on a va­ri­ety of vari­ables, and there is no right an­swer.

“Ideas and norms about ev­ery­thing are re­ally so­cially con­structed,” Pinck­ney said. “It’s some­thing that we as a so­ci­ety con­struct our­selves.”

Near the end of her al­lot­ted hour, Pinck­ney ini­ti­ated a group dis­cus­sion about ac­cep­tance re­gard­ing gen­der and sex­u­al­ity.

“Some peo­ple in­cor­rectly re­fer to it as a choice, and it’s not a choice. It’s some­thing that is there, and it’s there early on,” Pinck­ney said. “Where we iden­tify is there early on, even though it can shift in one di­rec­tion or the other.”

El­liot Gior­dano of Lau­rel opened up about his ex­pe­ri­ences as a trans­gen­der man. The 29-year-old praised his fam­ily for their sup­port and de­scribed the best way to ap­proach some­one shar­ing their sex­u­al­ity.

“I was re­ally happy when I fi­nally did come out, be­cause no­body I knew felt the need to make a big deal about it,” Gior­dano said. “That was such a huge re­lief to me ... The only thing that I wanted from my fam­ily and friends was a change in pro­nouns and name; I’m the same per­son I’ve al­ways been.”

Paul fol­lowed Pinck­ney with a di­a­logue about dif­fer­ent forms of abuse. While many per­ceive abuse to be purely phys­i­cal, Paul ex­plained it can be men­tal, sex­ual or even spir­i­tual. She added a lack of ac­cep­tance can also fall un­der abuse and those af­fected should reach out to CAP per­son­nel.

“It can also be that some­one re­fuses to ac­cept your sex­u­al­ity and who you are,” Paul said. “If they don’t and they bully you about it, it’s an abuse.”

The pri­mary scope of Paul’s pre­sen­ta­tion cen­tered on the 15 signs of a healthy re­la­tion­ship, which were il­lus­trated on a card each par­tic­i­pant re­ceived in their CAP goodie bags. She had mem­bers of the au­di­ence read each sign aloud be­fore the group dis­cussed po­ten­tial ex­am­ples of how those in relationships can strug­gle to live by the ad­vice.

Envy and self­ish­ness were pri­mary points of con­cern among the re­sponses to the list, as many of the signs de­scribed re­spect­ing your part­ner’s wishes and be­ing at­ten­tive to their needs. Paul went on to de­scribe the im­por­tance of un­der­stand­ing one an­other and how that fosters a strong re­la­tion­ship.

“We are so dif­fer­ent — no mat­ter what — as in­di­vid­u­als, and we come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds,” Paul said. “If you’re not ready to ac­cept that to start with, you’re def­i­nitely not go­ing to have a suc­cess­ful re­la­tion­ship.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY CHAR­LIE WRIGHT

Li­censed ther­a­pist Becca Pinck­ney of BLOOM Well­ness LLC dis­cusses “The Gen­der­bread Per­son,” an in­for­ma­tional graphic about gen­der and sex­u­al­ity.

Char­ity Paul of the Cen­ter for Abused Per­sons ex­plains healthy relationships and com­bat­ting sex­ual abuse.

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