Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The Gay Community VS. The Deaf Community
Oh, there is nothing like a blank page to get me started, and yesterday's blog raised a lot of questions and requests. The sun is shining here in Grosseto today, I only finally saw it after three classes of preschoolers who are no longer sick, happy for them, but now I'm back to the original 90. Can't remember anything because I was thinking about what to blog. Talk about multi-tasking. My head is so full of things I need to do, contracts to sign, resumes to print and update, books to read and translating corrections to be made. I think my first free minute to breathe may just be Friday, insanity.
Hmmm, after eleven years of living in Grosseto and going through what we've been through with Jordan, I am only now beginning to return to what I was before I got here, which is scary yet ok. I do not "belong" in Grosseto, but I do "belong" to myself. I'm okay with me, myself and I and it didn't take a community to get me here, it took living the experience and managing to come out of it in one piece, at least for now. Only when you accept yourself for who you are, positive and negative qualities, strengths and insecurities, can you begin to live and love. Faith is an important part of this because Faith requires that you believe in a higher power (of your choice)and that, yes, life happens for a reason. Swallow it and move on. Just chewing on my banana.
The world is made up of many small communities formed by people looking for validation, acceptance and freedom of self-expression. My sister is a dyke (she prefers that to lesbian)and she is proud of who she is, she is able to love. We used to teach at the same school, our classrooms were across the hall from each other. She was heterosexual for 21 years, but she had always had "girl crushes." I remember the first time she went to a gay bar "The Hippo" in Baltimore, yes, I too have been there, and pole danced like a champ. She went alone. She did not leave alone. She met her first girlfriend and the rest was history. This new lifestyle slowly transformed her and she is just not the type of person to stay in the closet, so one Thanksgiving Eve when the cousins came over to all go out to the bars, she introduced her girlfriend to everyone and told them she was gay. Silence. Then...admiration.
I'll admit, we did have one minor episode after the big coming out, when my mom and I asked Niki (the blonde on the left in the blog photo) why she didn't wear lipstick anymore. What can I say? I'm shallow like that. Niki hasn't let me live it down and calls it the "The Lipstick Drama." She felt that her gay identity was under attack. Okay. Since coming out, she has built her business Dykes in the City and life within the Gay Community and I have been a part of that as much as possible. I wear her clothing, tattoo breasts and hairy legs at Gay Prides whenever I'm in town and yes, partook in Rosie O'Donnell's and Kelli's Inaugural Gay R Family Vacations Cruise to the Bahamas (we made CNN:)).
Now that was a rockin' good time! NOBODY knows how to party like the Gay Community, I even won a hundred dollars playing blackjack.
Everyone knew I was straight, they were happy to welcome me, get to know me and chug some beers with me...the feeling was mutual. I was the minority on that cruise, the "outsider" and I was so conscious of the fact that the couples hugging and kissing could be free to be and free to love each other without feeling observed or different. Life can be so oppressive.
Back to Gay Pride. Gay Pride festivals are either a family event or a party hard event. At one festival Ru Paul reigned,
I saw men in contraptions I never knew existed, had some "woman" with a mustache named Alex bringing me jello shots, became an honorary member of the Charm City Boys Club, that were really questionable girls and admired some funky men in really, really high heeled stilettos, wearing A LOT of makeup. I got an education. Then, at the Pride Festival at Druid Ridge Park,
I tattoed a lot of little kids, a lot of adopted little kids of gay families. I interacted with a Gay community ranging in age from teens to elderly, even saw an old student, who I hugged and revelled in the beauty of Gay PRIDE.
The Gay Community provides a sense of belonging and welcomes diversity and visitors who respect that diversity. Only when you truly accept yourself for who you are as an individual can you accept others into your community.
Please remember some deaf people are still in closet. You know how gay people are when they are in closet. They would get defense if someone say to them that they are gay. They will get angry or freak out. They are also in denial. Once they get out of the closet, they finally accept who they are and embrace gay. They were taught to be shame of their own identity. It is same thing for some deaf people.
My point is this: If Deaf people are members of the Deaf Community, doesn't that mean that they have effectively "come out" and accepted, acknowledged and feel Deaf pride? Where is the diversity and acceptance of all those "types" that fall under the category of Deaf?
Mark wrote (loved the whole comment, gotta keep it all):
A couple of things:
First, watch the road! I enjoy your posts and want to continue doing so. A throng of American construction workers just breathed a huge sigh of relief that you're okay. :)
Second, I just can't resist the opportunity to put on my myth-buster hat, play some word games of my own, and re-define "conformity."
It was in the hearing world -- the one where so many hearing people ignorantly assume I can't possibly be happy unless I'm exactly like them--where I was under much pressure to conform.
It's in the Deaf world where I can belong, and effortlessly do so.
In the hearing world I didn't dare rock the boat because it was hard enough to keep up with everyone.
In the Deaf world, I've done some really crazy, out-of-this-world, insane stuff. Let me tell you right now that I'll never be president of the United States.
Old friends, ex-girlfriends, bartenders, farm animals, et cetera, would come crawling out of the woodwork with scandalous stories that would stop my campaign before it started.
And that's because ASL and the Deaf community give me an opportunity to express myself freely.
Nowadays I pretty much behave myself (I think). But I'll always be thankful to the Deaf community for allowing me to become a unique individual.
Just had to chip in my 2 cents because I love pointing out that the Deaf community strengthened me to the point where I actually function better in the hearing world --which, ironically, is what the hearing world wanted in the first place.
Weird world, ain't it?
Keep up with the thoughtful posts, I love it :)
Obviously the Deaf community has a lot to offer its members, but this you-must-speak-ASL to be a member is limiting its growth and power. Geez, to be accepted by the Gay community, all I had to do was have a dyke sister and tattoo a couple of bare breasts (Deaf bare breasts, too). You guys are making me sweat. *smile*