Friday, May 16, 2008

Deaf Pride

Deaf Pride has always interested me in so many ways. The way the culture is formed, the stance on things they believe in, pride itself, what they wish and inform others of. Deaf Pride is very strong and not one to really be messed with. People of Deaf Pride have been very stringent on who belongs to the community. They have been known to reject even deaf people who were not born deaf! By this standard, I would not be able to be part of the deaf pride community because I lost my hearing at the age of 2 and a half or so, I was born hearing and became deaf.

What’s more…you must be fully ASL user (not me), Must not wear hearing aids or CI, (I wear HA in both ears) among other things. Here is my question. Why do you guys go so far to even reject your OWN people that don’t fit that “mold”?! I feel like I am an outsider looking into your community, because I don’t use ASL. Simply I wear Hearing aids. Why is it so wrong for me to want to hear? Why, can I not be allowed to want to hear my parent’s voice? Maybe if I had a child, I would love to hear their voice.

I could never, ever wish a disability like being deaf on my own child. Yet I have seen some deaf parents who have this deaf pride, celebrate when their child is born deaf! Maybe I really, just don’t understand it, maybe I am not supposed to. However, wishing your child to be deaf, to not be able to hear, is supposed to be about pride? Pride that your child cannot hear?

We have other prides, Gay Pride, Black Pride. Those are fine. They show support, equality, make sure that everyone is treated with respect and equally as well. While they do show pride of being who they are, this is fine. Gay Pride goes on to make sure laws are equal for themselves, in gay marriages, it was all about equality. Black pride did the same, showed support for black people. Made sure racism was non existent and slavery was abolished and again on equality. That black people got the same rights and equality as white people in everything else.

Basically, I am trying to understand why with Deaf Pride it harbors things and sometimes can be negative, whereas Gay Pride shows respect and equality, and black pride shows equality as well as making sure racism doesn’t exist in this world.



Abbie said...

I would never want to wish deafness on my child either. It turns my stomach when I hear about the UK couple wanting to genetically ensure that their child will be deaf. I don't understand why someone would want to do that regardless if they can hear or not.

You are right that deaf people are picky about who they let into their circle. I have a friend who is deaf but she didn't learn ASL until she met her ASL only husband. They tolerate her because she knows ASL because she is a very outspoken person.

Gay and Black pride fought for a long time to get the same rights as the whites do. They wanted their same basic rights and freedoms to be the same as everyone else; marry who they want to marry, go to the bathroom where they want, sit on a bus wherever they want. Even with all the struggling to get the equality, there always had to some give and take on the other side to get this for them.

*Some* deaf people want time to stand still but everything is changing around them, products are being invented, technology is getting better, adaptive techniques are being invented and some won't accept it. Their way of life is their own and they don't want it to change.

Good post :)

Signing off with huge amounts of New Jersey pride,

Tassielady said...

I was thinking the same thing the other day exactly what abbie said.

To me it is not deaf pride as they just want to be known to the world but helloooooo the deaf are shrinking but the gay are growing, blacks are growing , whites are growing .. how can you have a deaf pride if the deaf community is shrinking.

As for technology is improving dramatically and im going for CI end of this month for test etc until i wait 4 years to get it done imagine what the technology will be in that 4 years time??? More improvement.

I cant see myself deaf i know i am deaf but i rather hear sounds and it has its advantages and some dont like when you sleep you cant hear the damn dog barking hmm.

Really deaf pride is really discriminate towards CI, HOH, wears hearing aids as we are still deaf and should not be shunned because of it.

Deaf pride start looking at a bigger picture and dont be so negative for those who have CI, HOH, HEARING AIDS ETC just accept them as a deaf person!!!


Seek Geo said...

Hey Alex,

Great post!! That is something I am always confused the definition of "pride" because not only I'm deaf, I'm gay also so I attended gay prides and such. They are always bringing positive just like how black pride, too. They'd welcome everyone regardless of what they are or who they are to work together and educate the rest of world for the better.

But on other hand with deaf pride, you have to be deaf, fully asl user, a few things like that to be part of pride which makes much difficult to become success like gay/black pride.

Some people need to realize that the point of pride is to welcome everyone of regardless who they are, etc and let's begin to educate the rest of world what Deaf is all about.

Let's all work together and accept everyone. :-)


Seek Geo said...

Oh and I forgot to add one thing... I would never ever wish a baby to be born to be something just like how some people wish they get a boy or a girl.

I will be happy whatever the baby is born and for who she/he is and I will be proud dad regardless!


David said...

Hi there

Actually it is about culture and language that create Deaf Pride. There are so many positive Deaf memories and their histories/values. It is not about disability. It is about value of life itself.

I do not mind if my child is Deaf or hearing. All I want is to love my child. I have two hearing children. They are great and they use my own language, ASL. I am very proud of them for accepting who we (me and my wife) are.

People have viewed on Deaf negatively that is one area turns me off. That is why Deaf people have to protect their own way of life. For example, people still do not understand us. Please please do not think that they accept or reject people based on their non deaf identity. You have to remember they have accepted many hearing people, formerly oralist people and hard of hearing people who understand and respect Deaf Culture and ASL. If they do have problem with that, then it can be challenge. Deaf people can tell people who accept or reject Deaf culture and even Deaf Pride.

Hope this help you. This is not to criticise you but to let you know how we feel about. Hope this helps!

Take care

Valerie said...

You hit the nail on the head!

I agree with Abbie on her comment. I don't wish my deafness on my child.

You just got me thinking, really thinking and that is a great thing. Keep these post coming.

Anonymous said...

I would not wish deafness or anything on my own child, i would just let them be who they want to be... that the key to the happyness, is accepting everyone for who they are. i have a friend who i live with who is HOH, he given up deaf community cuz they always rejected him cuz he is hoh and i also feel i am rejected by deaf people here in fla too. i dunno why people have to be soo picky about certain things in other people, that not happyness, if everyone would accept eachother then there would be more happyness in this world...

Jean Boutcher said...

You say you were born hearing and became deaf. Later you say you are hard-of-hearing. Do you mean that something miracluous had happened that turned you from deaf into hard-of-hearing? Now you have RESIDUAL hearing. In other words, you are NOT deaf.

Anonymous said...

"Why do you guys go so far to even reject your OWN people that didn't fit the 'mold'?!"

Exactly, Alex, that's why you, me, and other bloggers/commenters are here-- to challenge the hypocrisy of Deaf culture concepts of community.

Deaf culture has long been known for its practices of exclusivity and protectionism. Such preservation served its purpose for some 200 years in order to pass down the sign language and deaf customs over the generations.

However, this is becoming a rapidly changing world, with advances in hearing assistance technology and medicine, with the ever expanding use of computers and the internet, with the deaf schools' decline in both student population and quality of education, with the rise in just the last 50 years of different communication modes and increasing mainstreaming for the deaf and HOH, and with the changing employment landscape that sends deaf families farther away from deaf communities. The changes are very threatening to those who wish to retain Deaf culture.

Hence, the increase of ever more fine-tuning of "deaf" classifications and rules for qualification. Not exactly open arms, is it?

The Deaf culture population will continue on the downward trend of shrinking in the next 50 years. In reality Deaf culture will need those of us who are HOH, oral deaf, late-deaf, CI implantees, whether we speak and/or use ASL in order to help Deaf culture preserve its sign language. After all, we all share deafness in common and ASL is unique by itself as a language used among those who don't hear or speak.

I always thot that children are gifts from God to the parents, not the other way around. The concept of designer deaf babies is messing with Mother Nature's intent of giving.


Tassielady said...


Im offended what you said saying alex is not DEAF.

Yes he is deaf !!

Wearing hearing aids does that mean im not deaf ???

Wearing CI does that mean im deaf??

Like to hear your answer.

As far as im concern we are deaf when we take our hearing aids out to bed, shower, swimming it is still call DEAF.

Please dont treat us any different we are all DEAF no matter what you think.


Alex said...

To Everyone who responded thanks for all of your thoughts and supports and constructive views and criticism.

Abbie- I have indeed often found some to be picky who can enter this "deaf circle". What mentioned going on in the UK sounds horrible but I am not one to judge until I see all facts but certainly interesting to hear of.

Tassie- good point, are those with deaf pride actually DISCRIMINATING agains our OWN by being picky about who can enter? Cannot have a double standard here, fighting discrimination while doing their own form of it!

Geo- You certainly would be a proud Dad!!! Thanks for giving me the push to write up this blog!

Valerie, once a thinker, always a thinker! Thanks for the comments!

David- I agree and thanks for the background on it!

Jean- It is your comments that I precisely wrote this blog for, why am I not considered Deaf to you, but now because of this residual hearing? As Tassie said, once I take my HA off, im back to being "deaf".


Anonymous said...


You have written a very interesting blog and indeed I do enjoy reading. Exceptionally, this one is something I'd want to answer.

Sadly, a lot of deaf people like to judge others' "degree of deafness" and I only think that they all are scared of CI/HA users take over the "Deaf" world when it's really their choice and we all should respect the diverse people.

Keep up with the blogs.

Anonymous said...

alex, no offense but your naive.

give me your email and we can discuss. i actually would think we could enlighten our days by trading information. i want to know your views, your ideas. i want to know why you feel this way, what made you feel this way.

give me your email and we could start talking.

Anonymous said...

This is obviously an American perspective. In Australia 'Deaf Pride' isn't the same.

Wendy C. said...

Hello! I read all the comments with interest! I know Jean Boutcher from when I was at Gallaudet. I was born deaf 2 a hearing family. After the divorce, Mom felt dad left her due 2 my disability. When I was young, my father's mom told me about her prayer that I'll one day go 2 Gallaudet. At that time, I never heard of it. How did she know about that school? 2 make the long story short, she grew up in AL & had family connections in Va, DC, & Md. She was open to sign language that I picked up after age 8. She was president of DAR chapter & preschool manager/teacher. Her DAR ancestor, Solomon Thornton, served in the war & successfully gained independence from England in 1789. He was born in 1743 in VA and died in 1809 in Wilkes county, Georgia. He had twin sons who married the twin Carter sisters who were the relatives of Robert E. Lee's mother Ann Hill Carter. This ancestor, Solomon Thornton is also the ancestor of deaf Jean Boutcher. I met her by incident in the internet chatroom at Gallaudet during the 1990s. Jean was stunned when she read my comments in the chatroom about my ancestor, Solomon Thornton. She sent me a message, telling me that Solomon is also her ancestor. I was like "What? Are you serious?" We found that we're distant cousins since we share same DAR membership roll #. Is that ironic? Jean's mother's last name was Thornton. My dad's mom's mom was Ethel Ella Thornton. Anyway, I grew up as the only deaf in the all hearing family. Yes, I grew up in hearing culture where I felt isolated. I was not accepted by the big D community because of my hard of hearing status. I can relate to many hard of hearing people who were not accepted by the D communities. I understand that very well. I learned ASL at age 13 & later learned very late about my deaf rich history after meeting Jean. After meeting & connecting with Jean, I was told that I have several more deaf cousins who also went to Gallaudet during the 1940s. I grew up not knowing about my genetically deaf Thornton cousins. I know a little about them. After meeting Jean and the discovery of my deaf rich heritage, I decided to research my genealogy. During my genealogy research, I was startled to find that my 4th great grandmother, Leah Ford's nephew, John Salmon Ford (known as RIP Ford) was the governor of Brownsville, TX. What is more, he accepted the job offer as a principal for Texas school for the deaf in Austin (1878-1883). There is another one that I researched but I'm not sure about this one. My 4th great grandfather was Judge Thornton from Talladega, Alabama. He saved his hometown from northern army during the Civil war. The northern army planned to burn the town. But Judge Thornton used a Masonic hand sign as he rode the horse to meet the commander. So the commander agreed to drop the plan. Yes, he was a Masonic lodge member. I heard that there is a dorm named Thornton at deaf school in historic Talladega. I do not know for sure if that was actually named after Judge Thornton or his close relative. The deaf school was built in his town. I have 2 find out about that. Just thought I would share with you a little bit of my family history, and ,yes, Jean Boutcher's mother is my dad's mother's cousin. Jean's parents and grandparents were all deaf. Jean told me that we descend from King William the Conqueror through our Thornton line. She is very knowledgeable about not just Deaf issues but also our family genealogy. I am also related to King William through my Blois-Downing line. William's daughter Adela married Stephen Blois. My ancestor, George Downing married Dorcas Blois. I have respect for my elder cousin, Jean for knowing many things. I guess that when I become an old lady, I will probably be knowledgeable elder like Jean. Thanks for your interesting comments. If you have questions or comments to make, I can be contacted by email: Wink and deaf pride! From Wendy Cunningham, Medford, Oregon