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.

Kristi wrote:
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):

Hey Jodi,

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 :)
Best regards,

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*


Anonymous said...

Way to go, Girl.

I want to bring up about the new 21st century between the deaf and the Cochlear Implantation community.

First of all, I want to bring up the Gay community, a famous teenage guy named Ryan White (he had the hemophilia and believed he was the first AIDS victim who received the blood transfusion) and the AIDS during the 1980's crisis.

During the 1980 AIDS crisis, when the researchers announced that AIDS got striked by the Gay victims and Ryan White, the radical people got into the violence and political crisis. They thought that the AIDS were very dangerous disease and it will carry the disease from the humans to the humans. (we later found out it was not true from the press.)

The gay community and Ryan White faced the tough situation where they could not go anywhere. (Ryan got banned from the school.)

Over twenty years later, take a look at this present time, we have accepted and embraced any HIV and AIDS victims. We have spent millions of dollars to provide some educations to the underprivileged people in the world, especially, Africa to learn about the disease.

Now, for the deaf and CI community in the 21st century. We will foresee the CI and deaf people to accept and embrace each other. The CI babies who will be little over 20 years old from now will be accept and embrace by the whole-deaf community. They are new posterity.

I understand that there are about 90 percent hearing parents with the deaf babies have decided to implant their babies at the early age. Literacy is the key for any CI and deaf children to obtain in the early age. That is the *ONLY* way we can provide the children is to receive the education in the long run.

Educating is the key for us to learn about any diseases and many hearing loss issues.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

This was a very from-the-heart post and it shows your willingness to learn about various people and communities.

However, your analogy is flawed in one area. Your sister's community uses English. So do you. Therefore, language and communication were not an issue when you spent time with your sister and her friends. I'd be willing to bet the farm that if they were a predominantly, say, Tagalog-using community, you would have had to learn Tagalog to enjoy the same level of immersion as you did.

Just my 0.01 euro, considering the exchange rate. :)

Ocean said...

Hi Jodi ~

Interesting that you bring up the Gay Community and make this comparison between it and the Deaf Community...

I have an article in my files that was published in the New York Times back in 1994, which although it focuses on the Deaf Community, it also makes a similar type of comparison between the Deaf and Gay communities, and also talks a bit about Gay Deaf people.

If you are interested, I would be happy to send a copy of the article to you - it's rather long (12 pages) but it's very well written and an interesting read.

Just email me at oshginva@gmail.com

~ Ocean
Deaf Pagan Crossroads

Sharon Pajka,Ph.D. said...

The best make-up advice I've ever received was from a transvestite in the bathroom of a gay bar.... put foundation on your lips before applying lipstick. Z(the gender neutral pronoun) gave me the best advice ever!

KyDeafie said...

Love your post and nice to know you. I am fortunate to be part of both communities. :)

A Deaf Pundit said...

Jodi, I hope you don't mind me saying so, but Niki is hot!

Hopefully my girlfriend doesn't kill me for saying that. *grins* And yes, I see many similarities between the gay and Deaf communities.

But there's still a fundamental difference - language. The gay community speaks English. The Deaf Community is a mish-mash. Some of us do, some of us don't. It's tough to get past that. But many of us are trying. So that has to count for something.

Anonymous said...

Great article!

The deafness is very prevalent in the gay community (or is it vice versa?). So prevalent that probably there's no deaf persons hiding in the closet.

Keep on writin'! :)

Anonymous said...

Comment from ASL98

Hi Jodi,

I'm curious...has most of your experience in dealing with the Deaf community in America been through text/blogging? (I am new to DeafRead and don't know the history of all of the bloggers...that is why I'm asking.)I think the dynamics of the distance and anonymity of "interacting" on the computer is much different than interacting with a group of people in person on a regular basis.

I think you would find the majority of the Deaf community in America has moderate views and are very accepting of Hearing people. Likewise, if you had a culturally Deaf sister (as opposed to a Dyke sister), you would probably find your entry to the Deaf community via that connection easier and would find Deaf people who are just as accepting of you as those in the Gay community. I suspect that if you did not have a Dyke sister (or Gay friends or some other connection to that community), the Gay community would probably be a little skeptical at first as to why you had an interest in interacting with them.

However, knowing you have a deaf son with a cochlear implant, I am confident in saying that if you were here in America and were interested in seeking answers about ASL and Deaf culture for your son, your experiences in dealing with Deaf people in person would be largely, if not 100 percent, positive. Most of the Deaf people I know would take you and your son under their collective wing. They would not reject you because you are Hearing and don't know ASL, they would not reject your son because he has a cochlear implant. Have you ever seen Ella Lentz's ASL poem, To a Hearing Mother? That says it all.

You nor I can change the dynamics of sociolinguistics. One can never be a core member of any language/culture community without being fluent in the language and culture. There are different levels or degrees of membership in any community. At the core of the Deaf community are Deaf, ASL using members. However, there are other members of the Deaf community including those who are oral and learned sign language later in life, sign language interpreters, hearing children of deaf parents who were raised with ASL, hearing children of deaf parents who don't sign so great, Deaf people who sign ASL and can also speak English, parents of deaf children, etc. The Deaf community, in general, does not reject all people who do not sign ASL fluently. I am not sure where this myth came from. It has not been my experience in 25 years of knowing Deaf people. As I said, if one judges the Deaf community from blogging, then one is only hearing from a fraction of the Deaf community and some may say one thing behind a computer, but act differently in person.

I would caution against judging the entirety of the American Deaf community mainly through experiences gained through blogging. I don't think blogging gives an accurate picture of the relationship that the Deaf community has with the Hearing community on the whole.

RLM said...

Well, the deaf community in general is pretty small world, too. Almost everyone deaf know each other.

In the sense of tight-knit community of all races, cultures and genders usually have the societal constraints and expectations upon themselves.

Many deaf individuals came from the conservative-settings within the pre-80s residential schools of the deaf's societal norms and parental upbringings.

I choose to be a closeted deaf gay male during the 80s and 90s, because I rather have the deaf community to know me as a person, not the person with sexual preference.

No questions about the meanness of some deaf GLBT community which could inflict on someone deaf to shut hirself out of the deaf GLBT community.

For example, misinformation and false rumors about me being a bisexual within the deaf GLBT community. I got the hostile reaction from the deaf GLBT community for my so-called bisexuality.

Several deaf gay males came to me - "YOU BI, BI, BI" with scorning looks. I was totally stunned.

When I was a freshman at the Gallaudet College/University. I was blackmailed by one of the deaf gay males if I do not comply with his own request for sexual favor in return, etc. This deaf person would blab to the whole Gallaudet community about me being a gay person. I personally was a strong-minded person myself, but feared of being outed.

I learned my own lesson and lost my trust in the deaf community, especially deaf GLBT community. I chose to go ONLY with hearing GLBT community.

Why I chose to be a closeted gay in the 80s and 90s, because of my non-biological Catholic father. I don't want to lose my family inhertiance.

I also came from the deaf parent and deaf cousins living nearby Washington, DC area.

I have been well-known among many and many deaf pepple in general. I also have been involved in deaf leadership roles and other factors.

Many deaf people knew my deaf mother and deaf cousins from Gallaudet professors and other deaf people in the surrounding DC area.

You could see why I could not simply being an openly gay person til mid-90s.

If not for Tom Tarrantino's gay blackmail. I would come gracefully as a gay person, instead of being blackmailed by the member of deaf GLBT community.

Robert L. Mason (RLM)

Anonymous said...

White Ghost:

Where is the evidence that 90 percent of the parents with deaf babies have decided to implant their babies? That is fallacy information. Shame on you! You have a bad habit spreading false information. Please stop right now unless you have an evidence to back up your statement. I have met many hearing parents would not implant their children and would raise them in ASL environment instead trying to restore their children's hearing..

Please do not accuse that people who are against the idea of cochlear implant means they are from deaf family. This is not true.

We already accept deaf people with cochlear implant and they are very much welcome to the deaf community. Yet we do not have to accept the idea of cochlear implant. I notice people like you still do not get it and try to spread negative information about this group who do not accept the idea of cochlear implant. You are the ones need to learn to accept them who do not agree with the idea of cochlear implant.

We accept women to be a part of our community but people often do not accept the idea of women having right to abort their inborn babies.

We accept people who eat meat in our community but there are many people do not accept the idea of eating meat.

Gay community: They have many different groups in their community such as transsexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, drag queen, and many groups. Lesbian and Gay people often do not accept the idea of people being bisexual or transsexual. However when it comes to taking away their rights as Gay community, they will unified and fight against the majority in order to protect their gay community.

Thank you,


Unknown said...

oh my gosh,
Sofia is shaking her groove thing to Ru Paul and I am joining her! I will comment either later or tomorrow on these power comments. God! I will say to a Deaf Pundit, I will relay your message to my sistah...but you will have to take a numbah! Jodi

Unknown said...

Why does that not surprise me?? *rotfl* Jodi

Unknown said...

Anonymous about the flawed analogy, If I were to go to a Gay Pride in Italy, I don't because I'm always in Baltimore during the season, the result would be the same despite the language issue...food for thought. Jodi

Unknown said...

Hi KyDeafie,
You are cute...nice to meet you too. Jodi

Anonymous said...

Kristi --

I did *NOT* say that it was about the deaf family. I am talking about the hearing parents with the deaf babies.

You need to re-read my comment.

Here it is:


White Ghost

Anonymous said...

White Ghost:

"I understand that there are about 90 percent hearing parents with the deaf babies have decided to implant their babies at the early age."

This is fallacy information. And it was bad enough you would publish this website information that has no information that support your statement.

The website said: "About 90 percent of infants who are born deaf are born to hearing parents." They never mention about cochlear implant. SHAME ON YOU!

You need to read your own comment carefully.

Hey people, please read the website carefully. Please don't be gullible. RESEARCH and FIND EVIDENCE! I have found NO evidence to support White Ghost's statement.

Some deaf people of hearing parents oppose the idea of CI and have been grateful to their parents for not implanting them in order to restore them. That’s what I meant. I was not clear what I said in my last comment. I was in rush. My bad.

Jodi, I want to assure you that some deaf people with CI are grateful to their parents for making this decision.

AIDS has nothing to do with deaf people who have CI. Gay people and straight people were scared of AIDS because AIDS could kill them. They didn't understand how they could get AIDS back there. Finally people understand that they can't get AIDS by hugging or talking. I do not understand what White Ghost is talking about. Maybe she meant that CI is equal to AIDS?

Jodi, I really appreciate your determination to stay in the deaf community and to learn about it. I wish to see other parents are like you. I love you for being open-mind and being passion to get involved. Your son is lucky to have you as a mother. Your involvement in the deaf community will inspire your son. I assure you that your son and you will always welcome to the deaf community. :o) Keep it up with blogging.


Unknown said...

Wow,I need to read my sister's blogs more often. And I feel like I need to reread these comments 10 times before I have a complete understanding of what everyone is saying. I am quite sure that everyone involved in some minority group goes through a similar experience be it language or not. It is funny, just the other day, I was in a restaurant with my girlfriend and there were a group of women signing at the table across from us. They were showing a video to eachother on adopting a baby. I was intrigued by the group and found myself gazing at them a number of times. I wondered what it was like to live in a world within a world. But then I thought to myself, I suppose I do that too being gay. I have a world within a world of my own. And I feel people's gazes upon me all the time. I used to be shy about affection and self expression, especially because I was a teacher at one point. Now, as I have grown more confident within myself and who I am, I do not care how the people around me perceive my interactions with my loved ones. I am myself and I am proud of who I am, and this world is mine for the taking. I am here to teach and educate. I always have been, whether it be to children of all ages in the form of schooling, or to lgbt youth in the form of a role model. I can never understand why people within the lgbt community have issue with bisexual or transgendered human beings. It seems so much that we are all in the same spot, just trying to be accepted in this big world. Who are we to decide that one way of living is better than another. It phases me now that the same controversies go on in the deaf world. CI verses sign language? It seems from reading this that people who choose to raise their deaf children one way can be opposed to another way to raise a deaf child. I wonder why people need to have such strong views that one way is better than another. I am guilty of this too. At one point in my life, I wanted my nephew to learn sign language. I feared that he would never be able to communicate with us. That he would never be able to communicate period. I was convinced that he would constantly be frustrated with no real language that he could grasp. When he received that cochlear implant, to me, it was a miracle. A second chance for language. However, I still have the idea in my head that I would want him to learn sign language. But I guess over time i have learned to trust what my sister is doing with him. Who am I to make her decisions? Who am I to cast judgment upon how she raises her child. I can only try to be supportive and hope for the best. I suppose for the most part, that has been the way she has acted toward me and my sexuality. And just for the record, it was the "lipstick intervention" and I will not comment further on it. I see many signing people at prides all over the country. That is like living a world within a world within a world. Amazing how people are resilient and survive this extremely harsh, opinionated world that we live in. I feel like i am babbling with not much of a point to make here. I suppose I am saying that we all are just trying to be the best people we can be and make a difference. People are different, people are beautiful whether signing, gay, black, jewish, or whether they choose to where a cochlear implant and adjust to the hearing world. To each his own to be cliche. If we all could try and understand eachother, this world would be a much better place. Thanks Jodi for including me in your writings. You are a beautiful sister.
Niki Cutler

Anonymous said...

Who says this world is owned by white people?

Who says this world is owned by men?

who says this world is owned by straight people?

Who says this world is owned by hearing people?

"One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet”; meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible."


Anonymous said...


Shame on you back, Kristi.

Since the FDA approved to have the babies to receive CIs in 2002.
They will more likely approve the SIX months old babies to receive CIs as well. Take a nice look at the wikipedia.

Think about:

1. CI babies will be way up like a skyrocket. Along with *ANY* communication methods (Oral, cued speech, SimCam, ASL and so forth)

2. Better medical technology on CIs relating to the water issue.

2. Hearing parents VS. Deaf parents population. There are *more* hearing parents than the deaf parents in the population areas.

3. More residential-institutional Schools are/will be closing. (Example: The news in Rhode Island recently announced that the RI School for the Deaf is now struggling to meet the ends and there are only about 50 to 60 students.) More budget cuts will impact other residential schools as well.

4. More maintstreamed schools along with the supported system to access.

In conclusion, the CI babies are the posterity in the 21st/22nd century.

White Ghost

Unknown said...

Thank you for your comment. I agree with this:
You nor I can change the dynamics of sociolinguistics. One can never be a core member of any language/culture community without being fluent in the language and culture. There are different levels or degrees of membership in any community.
And...so far, my relationship with the Deaf community has been strictly as a blogger. My relationship with the cochlear implant community has been strictly by means of computer as well. With the CI community I have been able to promote awareness just by the written word. Perhaps, I will be able to create some type of awareness within the Deaf community in the same way. Thanks again, Jodi
I've never read Ella Lentz's poem, but I will try to find it.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Kristi...I will keep blogging, and you keep commenting...*smile* Jodi

Unknown said...

You wrote:
I chose to be a closeted deaf gay male during the 80s and 90s, because I rather have the deaf community to know me as a person, not the person with sexual preference.

How difficult it must have been to separate the two sides of your soul. How can we function totally if we aren't able to express the sexual side of who we are....so much in life is related to being able to express that side...and what a painful way to have to live your sexuality. Thank you for sharing your experience and may such a thing never happen to another person...really painful reading that. love, Jodi

Unknown said...

You wrote:
I chose to be a closeted deaf gay male during the 80s and 90s, because I rather have the deaf community to know me as a person, not the person with sexual preference.

How difficult it must have been to separate the two sides of your soul. How can we function totally if we aren't able to express the sexual side of who we are....so much in life is related to being able to express that side...and what a painful way to have to live your sexuality. Thank you for sharing your experience and may such a thing never happen to another person...really painful reading that. love, Jodi

Unknown said...

White Ghost,
I agree with your point that education and awareness are fundamental aspects of strengthening diversity in a culture. Jodi

Unknown said...

If you check back here, please send me the article at jodi@rallycaps.net ...thank you,Jodi

Unknown said...

Very interesting post...I would just beg to differ on one crucial point. The world is not run by white men,
The world moves forward thanks to the souls of the women who give birth to future generations.

Karen Putz said...

"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."

I think this sentence above makes a good point. I played on a softball team where half of the members are gay. No biggie to me, I'm comfortable being a straight person and confident in that. I received emails from other people who wondered if I was "going both ways" and I could get a big chuckle out of that because I'm confident in who I am, a married gal who finds guys sexy. The biggest key is to have respect and an openess to seeing the individual rather than the labels-- and this goes for the ones who are polarized on deaf isseus as well.

I'll never forget the day my husband's cousin Bubby first talked about being gay and came out, he was so worried about the family's reaction and the hubby and I were like, "Huh, Bubby--you're still Bubby." Nothing changed except we welcomed his husband into the family.

Anonymous said...

White Ghost:

You wrote, "I understand that there are about 90 percent hearing parents with the deaf babies have decided to implant their babies at the early age. "
Do not blame on Kristi. She didn't put a gun on your head and to tell you make a mistake. It is YOUR mistake, not hers. You need to own your mistakes and to take responsibility instead blaming on Kristi. I can understand you are so embarrassed for being busted in public's eyes. But it doesn't mean you find a way to get away from your mistake. All you need to do is to apologize and learn your lesson not to give out wrong information.


Anonymous said...

Jodi: Good! So what about the world is owned by hearing? You didn't answer this question.. :o)

RLM said...


Yea, I had a real difficulty of showing people who and what I really was all about.

If not for Tom Tarrantino's sexual blackmail which I fell into the spider's web spinned by this same person.

I would be more openly gay during my Gally years or engage in constructive relationships with guys based on trust and respect than having anonymous sex with guys.

Tom Tarraninto still have not apologize for what he done to me like inflicting "mistrust" upon me toward people in general. I wait and wait for his sincere apology.

Robert L. Mason (RLM)

Unknown said...

Haven't you suffered enough? If I have learned one thing in this lifetime, it's to NEVER have expectations of others. He will never give you what you want until YOU let it go. You need to let it go to truly appreciate what you have and breathe. The resentment is as bad as the act itself. When you move forward happy to be walking in your shoes and appreciating the beautiful aspects of your life, only then will you truly live. Let him go and take what he taught you, you will be a much better person for it...love, Jodi

Unknown said...

You so rock my world...Jodi

Kim said...

I'm several days late in reading this. One of my best friends from high school is gay. My husband and I still have dinner her and her wife from time to time. We LOVE them. I don't really get what all the fuss about gayness is.