Youth Blog—Feeling Heard When Dating Someone Deaf and LGBTQ
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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