Deaf LGBTQ+ Awareness Week occurs during the second week of April. In order to highlight Deaf and Hard of Hearing voices, I interviewed two people to see what they had to share about their experiences. The interviews have been edited as minimally as possible, with clarity being the main reason for any changes.
Name: Taylor Mccall
Gender Identity: Male (FTM)
Link to the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (HoH) community: I am deaf and transgender
Anything else we should know about you: I will go back to school soon and major in Gender Studies. I want to help the LGBTQ community and education, too.
Name: Peter Fair
Gender Identity: Non-binary, kinda transmasculine (they/them, Mx.)
Link to the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (HoH) community: My dad, uncle, grandmother, and grandfather are all Deaf/HoH and I spent a lot of my formative years hanging out at deaf summer camps and around other Deaf/HoH people. I was fluent in ASL when I was younger and do my best to keep up with it now.
What is your favorite thing about the Deaf/HoH LGBTQ+ community?
TM: My favorite thing about Deaf/HoH community is when we share our identity, coming out stories, news and see how strong we stay when we are united.
PF:The double sense of community! Finding someone who not only shares being LGBTQ+ but also is Deaf/HoH is such a nice part of interacting.
Who in the Deaf/HoH LGBTQ+ community inspires you? Why?
TM: Deafie Drag and their comedy deaf Latino. They are very inspiring to our deaf community and the LGBTQ community.
PF: Right now it’s absolutely Chella Man, which I know is cheesy but it’s so nice to see someone who is unapologetically trans and deaf and advocating for better treatment for all areas of his identity. As a bonus, though, I absolutely LOVE Nyle DiMarco! He’s also always calling out blatant ableism as a Deaf person and I think he is using his fame to bring attention to what it is like to be Deaf and especially what it’s like to be Deaf and queer.
How do you think the LGBTQ+ community can better serve its Deaf/HoH members?
TM: The LGBTQ community needs to provide the deaf community with better accessibility in communication. It is very important for us to know what’s going on and we want to unite with them. For example, some deaf community members want to watch their YouTube or Instagram videos, which sometimes don’t have closed captioning. That’s why we want to them to have awareness about our deaf culture, and language. We want to get involved with them. Because we’re the same as human beings.
PF: If we’re starting small, CAPTIONS. This doesn’t just serve the Deaf/HoH community, this also benefits those who have auditory processing issues, people who may prefer to read rather than listen, and many others! The next big step is just having interpreters at all events without having them “as needed.” The Deaf/HoH community (and everyone with a different ability) should NOT have to ask for accessibility options. Venues, spaces, and events should be accessible to everyone at all times.
Is there anything the Deaf/HoH community can do to better represent its LGBTQ+ members? If so, what?
TM: The Deaf LGBTQ community needs to become more organized and do workshops. So they can learn and know our identity better.
PF: Starting out with the big one here, stop assuming everyone is straight/cisgender. Without the assumption, the entire LGBTQ+ community feels better about being ourselves. Also, stay away from signs that are slurs.
If there was one thing you wanted hearing people to know about being Deaf/HoH and LGBTQ+ what would it be?
TM: I would like to tell hearing people that all of us are beautiful people, there’s no difference. I know people out there have a lot of different cultures, international languages, and different experiences. I just want to tell hearing people, ‘don’t be afraid of us, because are the same as humans’. We want to unite with them, and then the LGBTQ community will get stronger. Remember we have one life. Love is needed, spread out and support!
PF:We’re all different! Don’t make assumptions about our identities or hearing/non-hearing abilities.
So, just make an effort, folx. Educate yourself and your friends, and keep inclusion in your minds first and foremost. We all share something, and we are all in this together. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to add a few captions once in a while.