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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Family Get-Togethers 

Yesterday, I was reading TactileJunkie's blog about her vision getting worse and trying to remain in the flow of conversations with her family members.

Although, I can only imagine what that would be like...being Deaf and losing your vision and then trying to keep on top of things with family members. However, just about all Deafies understand the frustrations of audism within the parameters of our familial homes.

We're often told by our family members, when asking for a recap of the conversation or to interpret what someone else said or whatever, to wait until a later moment. "Later." "Never mind." "It was nothing." "I forgot." "It's not important." These are some of the most hated words or phrases when uttered by our hearing family members. And when we are told what happened previously, we're often given an abridged version. (You gotta see Audism Unveiled, if you yet seen it.)

We usually suffer with audism with our families throughout our lives. I used to think that those who came from hearing families who knew signs were lucky. Some of them told me that that's not always the case. Their family members will sign at the beginning and then eventually give up and resort to speaking with others. It seems that those truly blessed are those from Deaf families.

Anyways, we'll usually have an opportunity to "turn the tables" by the time we've reached adulthood. Some of us will go home for the holidays or summer breaks and bring along a Deaf friend. Families often react with offense or curiosity when one conducts dialogues in signs with his/her friend(s).
Or some of us might invite our families over to our places instead, along with our Deaf friends. They'll experience that reversed minority status or role.
Or some of us will plainly not go home at all and just celebrate holidays and breaks with the Deaf communities.

Usually, when KT and I go to one of our parents' homes for the holiday, we'll talk and strain our eyes reading their lips. For me, it's more hard work to understand KT's family members because they all speak with that North Carolina southern drawl. I hear it the drawl and their lip movements are slightly different. For KT, it's a bit easier because he grew up with that.
The same applies to my family. KT struggles to understand my family as they have that Spanish accent in their dialogues. For me, that never was realized upon me because I grew up with that and have been so used to it. I thought my family were easy to understand.
Well, anyways, after some time has passed, reading lips and interpreting to each other what people around us have said, our eyes wear out. The vocal box becomes parched or whatever. It'll get to the point where you'll be like...screw this, and resort to signing.
KT and I would feel so much better carrying our own conversations. Then, after a few minutes, someone would stop and say "what are you saying?" "not fair! tell us what you're saying." "are y'all talking about me?" "you better not be talking about me." "are you sharing a secret?", or something along these lines. Some days, you just wanna slap their faces so hard that their eyes, noses and lips would fall out like Mr. Potato Head. I mean, hello! You don't wanna interpret right there or rather give us the short version when people are talking. But when we sign, you expect to be told what's being said.

For some Deafies, they'll have no problem being frank right there on the spot. Other Deafies just don't want drama during the holidays, so they just put on their prettiest fake smile and force out a giggle.

It's no wonder many Deafies usually have a very short visit with families and spend the rest of the holiday/break with friends. Some don't even bother with them at all. The other day when we were watching Narnia at the theatre. We saw a Deafie that we hadn't seen since the summer. We asked him if he would go home for the holidays with his family. He replied that he has not spent the holidays with his family in YEARS. He said "I've given up on them, so what's the point?" All I said, I totally understand.

Some days, especially since my mother has passed away, I dread going home because I know that I'd be missing out. So, I'd do a compromise with myself. I'd spent time with family during the morning and the early part of the afternoon. The rest of the day and the night are spent with friends.

This year, we were planning to stay home during the holiday. However, we saw The Family Stone and thought maybe we should spend Christmas with family, especially since KT's sister from Minnesota would be in North Carolina. I had yet to meet her and her family. So, this was a good opportunity. It was nice meeting his sister and her family. However, it soon became that dreaded pattern that most Deafies are familiar with. Deafies that we know of in the area were few and far. So, we'd carry our own conversations.

Since KT and I have been together, we've been building up our own family, which is made up of our friends. I believe that rings true for many other Deafies. Manny, Cliff and Kekua are part of our core family, since we've known each other pretty much the longest and have had spent considerable amount of time and drama. (LOL!) Of course, we do have other Deafies who come over and celebrate the holidays and other good times with us. It's a different feeling and the holidays seem more festive and enjoyable.

Last year, we had a great time with Christmas dinner at our place with about 10 of us. It was like one of the best memories of all my Christmases. Plus, it helped to be surrounded with close friends during the 1 year anniversary of my mother's passing.

This year was different as we all had different plans for the holiday. Comparing the two, I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up celebrating the holidays with just our friends. Of course, I'm not gonna say 'never' to our relatives because you know the saying "never say never".

Being Deaf and gay is not always easy for our families. I'm not saying that beind Deaf and gay is a lot worse than other Deafies who have disabilities or illnesses or additional identities. Yet, we all can recognize the "uncomfortness" we may bring upon certain people in our families. Most of our families are religious and therefore, we have to put up with their lectures about homosexuality, even when we can stand our own ground. However, having this debate can ruin the spirit of the holiday and we'll bite our tongues (or rather, our hands). It seems that we're thoughtful about the festive spirit and we cannot understand it when other family members just rant and rant, begging for drama.

I'm always thankful for our little family of fellow Deaf and gay friends. We're pretty much each other's moral support, counselor/consultant, confidant, devil's advocate, shoulder to cry on, joker, brainstorm partner, cheerleader and sometimes that bothersome sibling. Yeah, we'll mother each other every now and then.

Ah well. Isn't life interesting? I guess we just make the best of it in the pursuit of happiness.


News of the Day:

Yesterday, I was going through my WishList and came across this singing duet. Jason & deMarco are Christian singers. They're gay too.
Jason was involved with some other Christian band, Truth, and later with Sound. Until Jason came out, they kicked them out of their bands.
Jason and deMarco met and fell in love with each other. Now, they're braving the Christian music world and ministering to others with their music.
I think that's just awesome to not give up just because an archaic institution, religion, specifically Christianity, has condemn their "lifestyles". Instead, they'r making the best of it by finding a record label that'll sign them on and performing in gay-affirming churches. Plus, they're active in gay issues.


Of course, New Orleans police chief defends shooting which resulted in the death of a knife-wielding man.

K Street Blues brought up an interesting discussion about using lethal force.


Well, ta ta for now...