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Photo by Alan Light
Photo by Alan Light

Deaf gay guys running around, avoiding Bette Midler songs

I have a lot of gay friends, and not one is deaf. I could imagine deafness to be an advantage if you don’t like Bette Midler or Broadway show tunes, but all kidding aside, I fail to see the connection. Also, it seems much rarer nowadays for deaf people to be sent to boarding schools. Most deaf students I’ve met opted to attend public schools with an interpreter. Overall, I’d consider your question to be a non-sequitur if I have ever seen one.

Dave, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation: Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Religiously Undecided, Age : 26, City : Huntington, State : WV, Country : United States, 44732

As a hearing gay male I can’t speak for non-hearing gay males. However, in my experience, there does seem to be a large number of deaf or hearing-challenged gay men. Guess I need to learn sign language!

bj tillman, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation: Gay, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Christian, Age : 35, City : philadelphia, State : PA, Country : United States, Occupation : Technical, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class

They aren’t deaf, they are ignoring you. Seriously, I have never seen any evidence of a higher percentage of gays who are deaf than of straights who are deaf.

Erik, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation: Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 34, City : Hilton Head, State : SC, Country : United States, Occupation : server, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class

I am a gay, hearing person who knows ASL and knows many gay deaf men. It sometimes seems like a higher percentage of deaf men are gay, but I think the real rate of gayness is fairly even across hearing and deaf men. I can think of a couple reasons why it would look like more deaf men are gay:

1. Deaf culture is less homophobic than hearing culture, so gay deaf men come out at a higher rate than hearing men, while more hearing men (like the former governor of New Jersey) hide in the closet.

2. Straight deaf people associate mostly with other deaf people, while gay deaf men go to gay bars that are predominantly hearing (as there are fewer gay deaf people and they need to date hearing men sometimes). So, if you go to a straight bar, you will seldom run into a deaf person, but if you go to a gay bar, you will often see deaf men.

Finally, there is no scientific evidence to suggest in any way that boys ‘become’ gay through childhood experiences, and the assumption that gay people are flawed straights is insulting.

Johnny29354, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation: Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 25, City : Washington, State : DC, Country : United States, Occupation : graduate student, Education level : Over 4 Years of College

I am neither deaf nor gay but have a friend who considers himself ‘formerly gay.’ I would suspect that a feeling of social isolation is a large contributing factor.

Brian23052, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation: Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 29, City : Bloomfield Township, State : MI, Country : United States, Occupation : Engineer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class

I am not deaf, but I work with the deaf community. I have found that the proportion of gay/straight men is about the same as in the hearing world. No difference. There may be a reason that you are seeing or meeting more deaf gay guys. You may have a window into a subculture of gay deaf, but subculture it definitely is.

D. Boyd, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation: Lesbian, Race : Black/African American, Age : 38, City : Metro Atlanta, State : GA, Country : United States, Occupation : Interpreter, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class

From the Dare to Ask column:

Philip Rubin, former president of the Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf, a national deaf-gay organization, said oppression against deaf people means a deaf gay person has weathered bias much of his or her life, anyway, so “perhaps we’ve learned to develop thick skin about being ourselves, whether we’re deaf or gay. My motto is ‘Life is too short for games.’”

In reply to:

Why are so many deaf men gay? Is it something genetic connected with the disability? Or does it come from early experiences at boarding schools for the deaf?

Scott, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation: Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 46, City : Denver, State : CO, Country : United States, Occupation : Editor, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class

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* Photo by Alan Light, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License. Accompanying blog images are for generic, illustrative purposes only, and may be stock or submitted photos. Models depicted are not connected to subject matter.

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