The LGBT Health & Development Program

Youth Blog—Feeling Heard When Dating Someone Deaf and LGBTQ

Posted on February 24th, 2016 by Thom in Featured, Youth Blog. No Comments

johnhain, “Untitled,” April 2015. Image was adapted and edited for this blog.

johnhain, “Untitled,” April 2015. Image was adapted and edited for this blog.

Just like the LGBTQ community, members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) Community view themselves as a separate and unique group that has its own language and culture. Young people who are a part of these two groups (Deaf and LGBTQ) face unique challenges and may often find it difficult to relate with others, especially romantic partners.

Tips for Dating Someone D/HH and LGBTQ

  • Stay physically engaged when trying to communicate with someone who is D/HH. Don’t be afraid to connect with your eyes, facial expressions, and gestures. Try speaking directly to their eyes and keep your hands and other objects away from your mouth.
  • Make sure the environment you’re in is well-lit and free of distractions. While candles and low lighting may set a romantic mood, they can make it difficult for your date to understand what you’re saying, especially if they lip-read.
  • Repeat yourself. It may take a few tries when attempting to talk to someone who is D/HH, so be willing to repeat yourself as many times as it takes. It’s normal for the last sentence to get lost in translation when speaking with someone who is D/HH, so repeat just what they missed and not the whole story.
  • Avoid using phrases like “never mind” or “I’ll tell you later” that make people who are D/HH feel isolated and unimportant. Instead, try to include them in the conversation taking place with a back-up communication system like a quick note or a text.
  • Try learning simple American Sign Language (ASL) phrases like “Hello,” “I understand,” or you’re “cute,” which can help create a connection between you and your date. For examples of helpful ASL signs for dating, check out this free guide from Survival ASL.
  • Finally, be patient. It’s normal for people to run their words together, mumble, look away, or not keep a consistent volume when talking, which can make it hard for D/HH persons to understand. Show that you, whether or not you are LGBTQ or Deaf (or both), ARE a caring, sensitive person who values everyone’s differences.

While it may not be easy to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired, overcoming the obstacles of communication may actually strengthen your relationship together. If you’re a person who is LGBTQ and hearing-impaired, or interested in learning more about these communities, you can find out more information from organizations like the Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (RAD) or Deaf Queer Resource Center (DQRC).

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