Seen but seldom heard.The murder of Gallaudet University Gallaudet University, at Washington, D.C.; coeducational; with federal support. It was founded (1856) as the Kendall School, a training school for deaf and blind students, by Edward Miner Gallaudet (see under Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins). student Eric Plunkett enlightens many to the concerns of the deaf and gay
There's really no good sign for it. In American Sign Language American Sign Language
The primary sign language used by deaf and hearing-impaired people in the United States and Canada.
American Sign Language (ASL),
n. , where simple hand motions convey complex concepts, it's always a pickle for right-minded folks to figure out how to say "gay" without being offensive.
The commonly used shorthands regarding homosexuality immediately betray a historic bias among the deaf that is only now starting to fade. It could be the letter "f" against the chin, signifying "faggot." Or touching the middle finger to the tip of the nose, then swooping it dramatically up over the head, for "fairy." Or, perhaps most offensive of all, to describe a lesbian one might make a gun formation with the thumb and index finger, then put the crux of that formation to the edge of the mouth to indicate "cunnilingus An act in which the female sexual organ is orally stimulated.
At Common Law, cunnilingus was not a crime. It is presently a crime in some jurisdictions and is usually treated as Sodomy. ."
Thus, in a rare inconvenience for a mode of communication that's all about shortcuts See Win Shortcuts. , more progressive folks literally spell it out This article or section contains unconfirmed rumors and/or speculation. Information must be and based on .
Please remove rumors and speculation and discussion from the article. . Some deaf youths and activists have embraced those offensive signs to remove their sting, using them among themselves much the same way many of the non-deaf have modernized the term "queer" from a slur to a salute. And some have taken to holding the letter "g" (for "gay") next to the chin as a recent linguistic innovation.
But most are reduced, at that crucial and frightening moment of coming out to someone, to letting their fingers do the cumbersome talking. If hearing people find the words "I am gay" to be the three hardest words to utter, just picture a deaf person Noun 1. deaf person - a person with a severe auditory impairment
individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul - a human being; "there was too much for one person to do" with not only three tough words but three even harder letters: "I am G-A-Y."
As it happens, though, the gay world isn't a whole lot more enlightened on how to embrace and interact with its deaf and hard-of-hearing populations. The organizers of April's Millennium March on Washington Millennium March on Washington was a controversial LGBT event held April 28 through April 30, 2000 in Washington, DC. A march from the Washington Monument to the front lawn of the Capitol took place on April 30, where the crowd was addressed by several members of , for instance, failed to provide sign language interpreters or closed captioning on the video screens, a particularly large-scale example of a rather common problem deaf gay people run into with local pride event committees and conferences across the nation.
And until the gruesome September 28 slaying of openly gay deaf freshman Eric Plunkett at Washington, D.C.'s Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, even leaders of the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) is a nonprofit organization that supports grassroots organizing and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. Founded in 1973, NGLTF works to strengthen the gay and lesbian movement at the state and local levels while were largely unaware of the surprisingly sizable, fairly developed deaf gay culture sprawling throughout the mainstream gay circuit.
HRC HRC Human Rights Campaign
HRC Human Rights Council (UN)
HRC Human Rights Commission
HRC Hard Rock Cafe
HRC Hillary Rodham Clinton (democratic senator/presidential candidate; former first lady) , for instance, didn't realize its need for a TTY (TeleTYpewriter) See teletypewriter and TDD/TTY.
(hardware) tty - /tit'ee/ (ITS pronunciation, but some Unix people say it this way as well; this pronunciation is not considered to have sexual undertones), /T T Y/
2. (teletypewriter teletypewriter: see typewriter.
A low-speed teleprinter, often abbreviated "TTY."
(hardware) teletypewriter - (Nearly always abbreviated to "teletype" or "tty") An obsolete kind of terminal, with a noisy mechanical printer for output, a )--a special device that allows deaf people This is an incomplete list of notable deaf people. Important historical figures in deaf history and culture
The idea that a person who was deaf could achieve a notable or distinguished status was not common until the latter half of the 18th century, when Abbé Charles-Michel de to communicate over regular telephones--until deaf gay students started contacting HRC through an interpreter to seek advocacy assistance because they believed police and officials at Gallaudet were ignoring the possible hate-crime element of Plunkett's murder. NGLTF NGLTF National Gay and Lesbian Task Force did have a TTY, but nobody would answer it because no one on staff really knew how it worked, spokesman David Elliot For other persons of the same name, see David Elliott.
David Elliot is a New Zealand illustrator, known internationally for his contributions to the Redwall fantasy series by British author, Brian Jacques. says.
"This experience has given me a new level of understanding about the problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered transgendered adjective Relating to a person who has undergone genital/sexual reassignment surgery Transgender health issues Hormonal therapy, cosmetic surgery, fertility options–eg, egg and sperm banking. See Sexual reassignment. Cf Transsexual. people who are deaf because it does provide communication challenges," HRC spokesman David Smith says of the Plunkett slaying, in which the 19-year-old was found clubbed to death, most likely with a chair, in his dorm room. "On top of the challenges of being a GLBT GLBT Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered person, [being deaf] is an added challenge to deal with."
What Smith and others discover when they look is an extensive, largely unnoticed deaf gay scene complete with 22 chapters of the Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf, a social and political club of more than 500 deaf GLBT folks that hosts a popular biannual bi·an·nu·al
1. Happening twice each year; semiannual.
2. Occurring every two years; biennial.
bi·an convention. They also see the Deaf Queer Resource Center, the more than 10,000 subscribers to a deaf gay E-mail listserve called FLASH, and the Deaf Gay and Lesbian Center in San Francisco. They realize there's a World Deaf AIDS Day observance on December 4, an annual Mr. International Deaf Leather competition, and a fast-proliferating list of Internet sites devoted to all things deaf and queer.
"We have a lot happening that most people don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. about," says Scot A. Pott, president of the Rainbow Alliance and a long-time deaf gay activist. "It's our own world."
Perhaps it's surprising that the two cultures aren't more intertwined and better informed about each other, considering how similar they are. More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, setting up striking parallels to the way many gay children grow up in heterosexual families as outsiders. In many cases, as in that of Danielle Waschler of Hackensack, N.J., parents go to great lengths to force their kids to be "normal," insisting they learn to speak and cutting them off from any deaf culture.
Waschler, now 34, recalls noticing groups of deaf people smiling and carrying on at the local shopping mall when she was growing up, but her mother would catch her glancing at them, then shackle shackle
a bar 2.5 ft long with an iron loop at either end, used in restraint of large pigs. A chain is threaded through the loops and around the lower hindlimbs of the pig. When the chain is pulled the pig is stretched and is cast with the limbs held wide apart. her arm with her grip and drag her away. "Mama wanted me to be mainstream, more like her and Daddy," says Waschler, a computer technician who eventually did learn to sign as a teenager. "It made me feel they didn't love me as much as they love my sister. I felt there was something wrong with me, and I was cut off too."
Many deaf gay people actually find it easier than hearing people to recognize and accept their sexuality, a fact that may explain the impression that a disproportionate number of deaf people are gay. Everybody has a theory on this one: Gallaudet French and Spanish instructor Buck Rogers believes deaf gay children are sheltered from much of the mainstream culture's verbal homophobia by not hearing it. Others say homoerotic ho·mo·e·rot·ic
1. Of or concerning homosexual love and desire.
2. Tending to arouse such desire.
Adj. 1. feelings are more easily manifested and acted on because many deaf children are educated in group homes and seek comfort because they feel abandoned by their parents. Still others suspect the process of coping with being deaf makes acceptance of yet another difference more natural.
Yet once many deaf gay people do make it out into the hearing world, many once again encounter bias and ignorance that reduces them to second-class citizens within their own minority. John Krueger, 36, of Cleveland, stopped going to gay bars and began withdrawing from many gay activities because he became fed up with commonly being regarded as less intelligent and less capable than hearing people. "I am continuously amazed how others perceive my handicap," Krueger says. "I am in a relationship with a hearing lover for 5 1/2 years now. When he first met me, he knew I would have a difficult time finding a good job due to my deafness. I make $30,000 more a year than he does!
"I also love country dancing," adds Krueger, who picks up the beat of country music by feeling the vibrations of the sound system through the floorboards, "but nobody would ask me to dance, so I had to be aggressive. I was a member of a country dance club that does many wonderful things, such as fund-raising for HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome , but they never asked me to be on a committee. I had to ask them if they needed my help."
Dating is an obvious challenge, made a bit easier by the advent of the Internet and online chat rooms. Bars can be dark and tumultuous places, so sign language gestures are hard to see, and many hearing gay men and lesbians become impatient with trying to convey information to the deaf. Even if a connection is made, hearing gays without a TTY must phone their deaf lovers via telephone relay, a system by which an intermediary translates the speech to text for the deaf person's TTY and the text typed by the deaf person into speech for the hearing person. That can become awkward for gay people who are unaccustomed to it since a deaf man could be talking to his hearing lover through the voice of a middle-aged woman and shy away from Verb 1. shy away from - avoid having to deal with some unpleasant task; "I shy away from this task"
avoid - stay clear from; keep away from; keep out of the way of someone or something; "Her former friends now avoid her" more intimate sorts of chatter.
While the relay services require operators to relay conversations verbatim without judgment, some operators do occasionally turn discomfiting calls over to other operators, says Mike Krajnak, 36, of Providence, R.I., the 1999-2001 Mr. Philadelphia Deaf Bear who worked at the Ohio Relay Service. "I even had to help [operators] with clarifications [on sexually explicit calls], it's embarrassing to say," he explains.
What embarrasses--and alarms--many deaf gay activists much more is a suspected disproportionate spread of HIV HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States. among the deaf, which they say is a direct result of a failure by AIDS organizations and the gay culture to recognize the different communication needs of people who cannot hear. Statistics are sketchy, with estimates of HIV infection rates that range from 7,000 to 26,000 among the 2 million deaf Americans, but it is clear that a great number of deaf people have an poor understanding of HIV and unsafe sexual behaviors.
American Sign, not English, is the first language of most deaf Americans, and researchers say that reading skills tests of 17- and 18-year-old deaf students show that half read at or below a fourth-grade level. Deaf people rely heavily on visual explanations, not the complex scientific information offered by most AIDS pamphlets. Some deaf groups have created more rudimentary booklets that utilize crude, sexually explicit stick figures and hokey hok·ey
adj. hok·i·er, hok·i·est Slang
1. Mawkishly sentimental; corny.
2. Noticeably contrived; artificial.
hok graphics to illustrate the differences between safe and unsafe sex, and interactive Web sites are now starting to offer videos showing in a basic way how HIV is transmitted.
Still, the groups that create these booklets don't have the money to blanket the deaf world with the information, and the Internet is more a province of the English-literate. "There is a heavy need to launch literature for the deaf and hard-of-hearing who do not have access to the Internet," says Chad Ludwig, senior supervisor for TTY service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialing) Long distance dialing outside of the U.S. that does not require operator intervention. STD prefix codes are required and billing is based on call units, which are a fixed amount of money in the currency of that country. and AIDS Hotlines and the chairman of the National Coalition in Deaf Community and HIV/ AIDS. The hotlines received 577 TTY calls in 1999, and a study of the 1998 TTY calls showed that more than 30% of callers acknowledged having had unsafe sex.
Pott says the gay hearing establishment is catching up--slowly. And NGLTF, while neglecting its phone services for the deaf in recent years, will host a panel titled "Signs of Change: Incorporating Deaf and Disabled Brothers and Sisters" at its upcoming Creating Change conference. NGLTF spokesman Elliot says each preregistered deaf attendee will be assigned a personal sign language interpreter for the conference. "This isn't a dollar issue for us," he insists. "When someone decides there's no reason to spend the extra dollars to hire an ASL ASL - Algebraic Specification Language interpreter, they are deciding for other people that an event is not for them. That's a very serious transgression. It's the same thing as having segregated rest rooms."
That's the kind of rhetoric deaf gay people want to hear, the sort of action that encourages deaf gay folks to revel in their own culture while participating in the mainstream. "Being deaf comes to me first, because it is something I am constantly aware of, and I don't have sex every minute of my life," Rogers says. "The unique thing about us is that the deaf world is much smaller than the hearing world, so the deaf gay world is even smaller. So when one comes out and enters this world, everybody learns about it, and making friends is easy. Sure, some people don't get along, but mostly it's like a big family all the same."
Find links to more information and resources on the deaf gay community at www.advocate.com
Friess is a reporter at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Sun-Sentinel.