Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Making a Difference

I think I’ll get to the point of this blog. I had mentioned before how I was rarely ever accepted in the deaf community because most deaf folks didn’t accept me for who I was. The choices I made and the things I do or don’t do. I mentioned the situation that happened with me at a restaurant between my parents and a group of deaf people. I never understood WHY I couldn’t be accepted for who I was.

They gave me reasons but they seemed pretty bleak. I could talk, I didn’t know Sign Language, and I was damaging myself by doing Cued Speech. Name it, I heard it all. I was being mainstreamed, I was not attending a deaf school, and I was wearing Hearing Aids. I was doing everything “Wrong”. *sighs* I don’t recall telling them what they were doing was wrong, disrespecting their lifestyle or choices or anything.

It was events like these I stayed away from deaf people. Deaf events, clubs organization. It was always the same story. I got really tired of it. However, I knew I had to eventually learn ASL at some point, so I ventured online to check some resources. We already know how I came across Geo’s site. Why did I stick around? I was sure I’d get bashed again and questioned for my choices; I mean it seemed everyone else did it!

I thought ok maybe for once these people will be different. I ventured to the chat room introduced myself. They asked me questions getting to know me. I said I didn’t know Sign Language. *screech*. I also said I called myself Hearing Impaired. *screech*. Wait, what was that? No one said anything to me…I just got oh cool, well welcome here! Wait, what did you say?! WELCOME HERE?!” Wow, that’s new to me! I thought something was wrong here, where are the questions or statement’s saying I am doing something wrong? There wasn’t any!

Holy mackerel! Amazing, people actually accepted me! What’s better is people like Geo went out to reach me and tried to learn more about me. Not ONCE, EVER questioning my choices, just nodded his head, understood why I did them and accepted it. He of course would voice his opinions and say I don’t agree with some thing’s you say about yourself but that’s fine. As long as you understand why. Holy, cow, someone taking the time to explain and teach me WHY some people didn’t agree with my life style.

He went on to explain why some deaf people don’t like it when I used Hearing-Impaired. By Gosh, I finally understood. Here was someone instead of going after me for calling myself Hearing-Impaired, he explained why, and made me understand. Then left it up to me to go on. I of course will still call myself H-I for awhile because it is just what I used for so long. I won’t easily forget. However because someone like him took the time to go on and explain, I became more open minded and was willing to change it a bit to more of Hard of Hearing, or even Deaf.

When I take a step back and look, to see the difference in this wonderful website with Geo. I look at Abbie who has a CI. I look at myself with Hearing Aids, and Geo who has neither. We are all so different but we still are part of the community of being Deaf. I really agree with the statement “we sleep in silence, too” It really is true, during the day, we use whatever resources we can use to make our day better, whether it is using ASL, a CI, Hearing Aids. However at the end of the day, we still join together in silence. We are truly a wonderful group and I look forward to every night getting on the computer and sharing the laughter and jokes with Geo and Abbie and others online. I really feel like I belong.

It is my hope that if you are one of those who don't accept people like me to maybe one day accept us into the deaf community, and to understand the choices I made. All it took was someone like Geo to change my outlook and make me understand and want to be a part of this wonderful deaf community. Teaching me ASL and continuing to educate me in the deaf culture and all. There truly is no better teacher then experience itself.

Alex

12 comments:

Jes said...

Hey Alex,

I'm so glad you've found Geo, Abbie, myself and others who support and accept you for who you are. it really shouldn't bother other people the way YOU live your life! the notion of others (especially other deafies) not accepting you because you're a little different is just ludicrous.

Everyone has their differences, this is what makes the world so interesting. imagine if everyone were the same, how boring! Tolerance and respect should be top priority in such a way to make everyone feel welcome. You are welcome here, with open minds and open hearts! see you in chats for more of those laughter and jokes :)

Jes

Abbie said...

You know what Alex, you are a really great guy, good natured with a heart of gold. While it upsets me that you were put through several unfortunate experiences, over and over, you persevered by being able to see through all of that with the help of one really wonderful human being. The only thing you shared with those people was the fact that you had a hearing loss. The fact that you are so much more open minded opens up a whole new door for you.

As you know, when I reached out to my deaf community I was not well received just for being able to talk. It was a harrowing experience because I worked so hard to get to this point. I refuse to believe that they were all like that and I was right, they weren't.

It is a privilege, no, an honor to come across some people that we can have intelligent discussions and debates where we don't always agree but we can learn from each other. The more you learn about other people, the more you learn about yourself. It amazes me how much you have grown in just a short amount of time. Whether you realize it or not, there is so many other people growing from you just being you, including myself.

We may be different but we are the same...

Seek Geo said...

Hey Alex!

Aw.. I'm flattered! I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful opportunity to meet you in person not long ago. And there are many great people like Abbie who I'm anxious to meet one of these days as well!

I'm sure I have told you and a few of others before that I used to be like that kind of people who I refused to accept some people just because they are CI users, the ones who grew up orally, or anything that are NOT like us. I was back in teen's and now that I look back and you bet I regret every minute of it.

So, here I am who have changed for the better and also I hope for rest of others to follow the step by accepting everyone regardless of their difference which that will make our culture/community much stronger.

They are missing out a lot of wonderful people like you and others to get to know better, Jes is thrilled to meet a great guy like you, too and we are definitely looking forward to see you again end of July.

LIke Abbie said, I'm sorry that you had to put up with all that and also I'm sorry for others who goes through the same. I'm with Jes 100% that everyone has their differences, that is what makes the world so interesting.

I'm so glad not only to meet you, I get to meet a lot of great Seekies out there!! You all rock! :-)

Hugs
-SG

Tassielady said...

alex

Im glad i met you online as you are very much in the same boat as i am and getting sick of all these crap from deaf *telling you do this and that* hello this is my life and if you dont like it accept me for who i am not change me for to be like you !!! We are not twins !!!

I have met wonderfrl friends on Geo's website and its a learning curve so long everyone respect everyone's decision.

Welcome my friend and many more years to come.

Cheers
(_!_)

Anonymous said...

Alex:

Wonderful blog you have going here, I am older than you, and have experienced the same things you are going through in your life right now for quite a long time. I'm glad you have found out that not ALL of us are like those who have been giving you a hard time. A friend and I have each started blogging on Live Journal about many of the same things. We have a little bit of a different style (some call us a little crazy, LOL), but we believe in good, honest, and meaningful discussion as well about these issues. Feel free (that goes for anyone visiting your blog as well) to check us out on Live Journal.

My username on Live Journal is ThumpaFlash. You can find it at www.livejournal.com and then search for ThumpaFlash. Hope to hear from anyone here, feel free to comment on any of my blogs.

chillygurlz said...

in fla, there were times i was in store, i seen some deaf ppl sign, i would try go say hi but they just look up and walk away, geez. my friend Robert is hard of hearing and he has been rejected by deaf people quite few times cuz he is oralist HOH, I don't normally go out to any deaf clubs or anything, it just not my thing to do. It good to have differences in people cuz other wise it be boring when everyone is the same. so we all just have to learn to work together and compromise together. the people who reject others cuz they are different are closed minded, i would think. if everyone accepted everyone for who they are then they are open minded... Alex, u rulz...

Jodi said...

Alex my sweet..
Gawd luv ya sweetie,, you are terrific just the way you are.
Can you imagine what the deaf community was like when i chose to leave behind America for a country that did not even speak english..
"whats wrong with american men" "you will be sorry living there""your man is hearing whats wrong with a deaf man etc etc"
Good lord if I listened to every darn thing any deaf person told me to do in my adult life I would be in CHOATE MEMORIAL CENTER IN ANNA ( ya know where I mean babes )
As long as you stick around with us we won't lead u astray ( well we might try to corrupt your young mind hee hee )
Just because you stumbled over a few bad apples in the deaf community doesn't mean we are all painted with the same brush,,as you have found out..
Being a strong oralist with some good sign language skills, still does not MAKE ME DEAF enough in some circles. So what, i am who I am, and like every one else says, like me for who I am or leave me alone.
Alex i am reallllllllllly looking forward seeing you this fall,
mwahhhhhhhh ik hou van jou
Jodi

Aaron said...

Good point Alex, very funny...

"we all sleep in silence"

I love it. Whether we like it or not, we are all the same in a certain way, regardless of the choices we have made. I have no room in my world for people who are mean and judgemental, and clearly I am not alone in this group. It's not like the choices any of us have made can be undone quickly or easily. So you learned cued speech. It takes years to be proficient in ASL (as I am learning the hard way right now).

Keep your head up, and tell idiots where they can go if they dont like it. =)

Senthil said...

Hi Alex,

I saw your blog. I have mild hearing loss since I was born. Well, I never learned ASL or lip reading. I pretty much entirely relied on my hearing aids, but it has been very challenging for me being part of the hearing community all my life.

I created a personal Website: www.iamhearingimpaired.com. You are more than welcome to join my discussion forum and share your experiences :)

Senthil

LoveBeing53 said...

Hello Alex!

I've found your blog also thanks to Geo.. and I actually found his videos in Youtube just an hour ago thanks to a movie I saw ("And Your Name Is Jonah")that deals with this dillema as well! :-) if you want to read my comments go to this video: "Are we in a Deaf Or Hearing world?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1_zuCOdfj4

Well.. I felt bad after reading about your bad experienced, since it showed me that even the deaf community had its bad sides.. (like every community) or prejudice etc.. but then you see you can never say "all of them are like this or that"- since there are so many people on earth- you can't say that only because people are like you in one way- they will be also like you in another way.

I believe that First you must search for people who have a Heart! Those people can be hearing people (like me), deafs, or whatever! Even dogs & cats sometimes have more heart and love than most people..

I'm happy to have found people like you and Geo (and the others I've read in the comments) just now- because finding good people is like finind Dimonds in the hot sand of the desert! :-)

Who knows maybe (if you'll accept me too.. ha ha!) all of us will be good online friends over time.. so for now have a great day! :-)

With Love a and big Hug!
Gil :-)

One more thing- guess what- I'm even very far away- from Israel.. :-) It shows you how far can people be but actually close in heart. We are all part of the big community of loving souls.. :-)

LoveBeing53 said...

Oh yeah I forgot something nice I've found out!

Few months ago I read the book "Chicken Soup For The Soul- Stories For a Better World" and there was a chapter called: "Making A Difference" and then I've found somting out!! Combining those words and you get- MAD! So.. what it means.. even if people think you are mad- who cares?? you know in your heart you are actually- making a difference in this world!! like all the great people who ever lived.. :-)

So continue to be who you Really Are and what you are doing! and one by one- we will change this world- for the better! :-)

Bye for now!
Gil :-)

Key said...

I just recently found your blog while watching Geo's video on youtube. I used to consider myself Hearing Impaired also because that is what I was taught to say about myself when it came to my hearing. I also went to a mainstream school and I did not learn ASL until I was about 16 or so as a camp counselor at a Deaf/ Hard of Hearing camp, talk about culture shock. Gradually I worked my way through the Deaf community via my 2 friends that I met at the camp and I now see and call myself Deaf because that is how I feel to label myself.

I have experienced the same problems while socializing in the Deaf community, I have found a few wonderful people in my area who are not quick to dismiss me as someone that knows nothing but there were many others who were not so welcoming.

I am happy to have run across you page and to know that someone else out there has similar experiences to my own. :-)