Deafness and Queerness


Bear with me here – this is going to get a little strange. It comes from a discussion we had in my Dynamics of Oppression class (DST 311) today.

Bisexuality – Being Hard of Hearing
Think about this. Many people hear about bisexuals and say they just can’t choose. They’re on the fence. Or they really like one better than the other. Nobody is really bisexual. They secretly have a preference. We insist on shoving bisexuals into the little box marked “straight” or the little box marked “gay” – nobody lets bisexuals be bisexuals.

Now think about being hard of hearing. You either can hear, or you can’t. You don’t get to have a middle ground. You are either hearing (but have some problems) or deaf (but hear really well). You have to pick one…you are either THINK-HEARING or DEAF-HEART. If you live in the Deaf-World, people will say “oh stop pretending, you are really Deaf!”

Why do we insist on putting people into boxes? Why do we say there can’t be a third category? Don’t bisexuals have their own unique needs? Don’t hard of hearing people have their own unique needs?

Ex-Gays – Cochlear Implants
There are special organizations and ministries for what are called “ex-gays” – people who are not happy with being gay and they want to be straight. The organizations are run by people who are genuinely caring and want to help unhappy gay people. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t…but they are definitely for people who feel that being gay is a problem that needs to be fixed.

Of course, there are cochlear implant companies too. They want to help children and adults with hearing loss be able to enjoy music, environmental noise, and voices. Sometimes implants are successful, sometimes they are not…but the companies are definitely operating from the assumption that deafness is something wrong that needs to be fixed.

Are these groups wrong or right? In both cases, they are trying to take the fundamental identity of a person (gay or deaf) and change it into something unnatural. Sure, sometimes people want these changes…not everybody is comfortable being gay, and plenty of people with hearing loss want to experience hearing. Is that bad? Should we say “no, you cannot have this experience, you cannot make this change, it’s not appropriate, you must love yourself the way you are!” Or should we accept that adults can make their own choices about themselves, and if somebody wants to become straight, or wants to get a CI, that is okay?

These are just some things to think about as you go through your day. ๐Ÿ™‚


One Response to “Deafness and Queerness”

  1. Macc Says:

    Very interesting analogy! I want to join your DST 311 class now… ๐Ÿ™‚

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