The Rehoboth Beach Museum is hosting a listening and discussion series on the past, present and future of the LGBTQ community in Rehoboth Beach this month. The event is free and is split into three sessions.
The first session was held on July 9 and was titled “Our Roots: LGBTQ History in Rehoboth.” This part of the series discussed how the LGBTQ community came to Rehoboth, the initial pushback and how the community came together during a difficult period in Rehoboth history. The second session will be held on July 16 at 6 p.m. and is titled “The Current State of Affairs: LGBTQ Rehoboth as We Know It.” This part of the series will allow attendees to share their opinions on what the current climate of Rehoboth is as well as how Rehoboth is one of the most accepting towns in the Mid-Atlantic. The final session will be held on July 23 at 6 p.m. and is titled, “Where are We Going? The Future of the LGBTQ Community in Rehoboth.” This part of the series will discuss what the future of the LGBTQ community will look like along with what goals there are for the future.
“We chose to host this series because we needed to keep our audience engaged while the museum is closed for renovations this summer,” said Casey McClintick-Sink, an intern for the museum this summer. “With guidance from Paula, we decided that I would conduct research on the LGBTQ community here in Rehoboth because I am a part of that community.”
McClintick-Sink conducted research by listening to oral histories, conducting interviews, reading news articles and ensured that a lot of different perspectives on the Rehoboth LGBTQ community were heard. Paula Roberts is McClintick-Sink’s intern coordinator.
“As you know, Rehoboth Beach has a history of struggling with and largely overcoming anti-gay prejudice. We have a vibrant LGBTQ community anchored by CAMP Rehoboth,” Roberts said. “However, not many of the current residents (gay or straight) know that history and what it took to get where we are. One of the functions of a local history museum is to document and share that history so we can all participate and safeguard our gains.”
Roberts stated that the museum made the decision to include the history of the LGBTQ community in every phase of their presentation because a separate presentation would imply that LGBTQ folks are ‘other’ rather than an integral part of the community. She mentioned that the museum collection had very little about the LGBTQ community and that the museum needed to do a major outreach to the LGBTQ community to let them know that they wanted to include them in the telling of Rehoboth Beach’s story.
Roberts did some initial research to outline what the museum knew and didn’t know. McClintick-Sink then took that research and developed it into a three-part presentation for the series. They decided to host the presentation at the Anna Hazzard House, as it will allow them to keep the group small to better foster conversation and let them learn from the participants, as well as encourage participants to donate artifacts so the museum can educate the public.
“Casey is fabulous. She is bright and curious and works really hard,” Roberts said. “We did not know when she contacted us about doing an internship this summer that she was a lesbian and was raised by two mothers. When we learned this, it seemed a perfect fit to have her work on the project. She both knows the issues and brings the perspective of a young person to the subject matter.”
Roberts said that having a young person’s perspective is important because young people must know the history and share it with their peers in order to hold onto the gains made and make more towns gay friendly.
“I wanted to find out how Rehoboth became such a gay-friendly town, and where we might see the community going in the future,” said McClintick-Sink. “This is a really significant story to be told right now as we face the possibility of LGBTQ rights, along with the rights of other minorities, being taken away.”
The Anna Hazzard House is located at 17 Christian St. For additional information and to RSVP, call the Rehoboth Beach Museum at 302-227-7310.