Library promotes acceptance through community event
Speakers discuss healthy relationships and coping strategies
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.”
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.