In a message dated 11/29/2006 10:37:40 AM Pacific Standard Time, burr0099@ writes:
I am a student at the University of Minnesota, currently in ASL 3. I have the Random House Webster's ASL Dictionary,
but I often rely on
your site for current, cultural descriptions of signs. (The personal, anecdotal information is much more useful than a
So, I was wondering if you could add signs for gay, lesbian, etc?
(Or are they already on the site somewhere and I'm just
missing them?) Do
you recommend using the initialized signs on the chin or is there something more up-to-date? You could also add signs
for "partner" and
other related signs.
Thanks for your help,
I can put those signs on my to do list.
It might be a while since the "to do" list is pretty long.
But at least they will be in the pipe for eventual inclusion.
I just do the initialized "GAY" / "LESBIAN" signs on the chin. Or if in an unknown group I'll spell G-A-Y. For partner I
do the "roommate
But what do I know? I'm like the world's
The other day a
motorcyclist showed me half a dozen signs for "gay" that he says are in use. One of which was "tugging on the
I'll have to ask around to see if he was giving it to me straight, er, I mean, telling me accurate
In a message dated 11/29/2006 5:27:14 PM Pacific Standard Time, burr0099@ writes:
I've seen the "tugging on the earlobe" sign in James Woodward's book, Signs of Sexual Behavior, but it is
quite old so I am never sure what is still in use.
Around here it is quite common to use "part" + the agent sign for "partner."
In a message dated 5/31/2011 3:29:38 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, rockiatrist
Hi my name is Shane a returning adult student with UWL but withdrew to possibly
just finish at MTC in Wisconsin so I can at least maybe get a certificate as
well as my degree. My major is in Interpersonal Communications and had a
deaf/mute boyfriend while at UWL. I see the comments in response to doing the
sign for "GAY" and if any help, being a gay man, i find that the chin movement
is what is told to me all the time by gay men who are Deaf. I did the ear lobe
and they looked at me and even chuckled. Just a thought if it would help. the
chin is what i am instructed by gay men to use, at least here in Wisconsin gay
In a message dated 7/11/2011 7:26:00
P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, rockiatrist writes:
My apologies for using the term Deaf/mute in the message i sent you in regards
to the sign for "gay." I certainly am studying the language and meeting people
locally and through websites. I was directed to this article by a Deaf man who
was friends with my former boyfriend after he noticed the words i used in the
message i sent to you that you posted on your site. He was not mad, but just
shared this article.
"Deaf-Mute – Another offensive term from the 18th-19th century, “mute”
also means silent and without voice. This label is technically
inaccurate, since deaf and hard of hearing people generally have
functioning vocal chords. The challenge lies with the fact that to
successfully modulate your voice, you generally need to be able to hear
your own voice. Again, because deaf and hard of hearing people use
various methods of communication other than or in addition to using
their voices, they are not truly mute. True communication occurs when
one’s message is understood by others, and they can respond in kind." -
National Association of the Deaf http://www.nad.org/issues/american-sign-language/community-and-culture-faq
Maybe you could post this underneath message if you, or other people, think it
was not proper to use term.
- Shane Zirbel
p.s. do you yourself think it was not polite? With the communication still being
limited while we dated he probably never knew i was using term. We are still
great friends though and chat via webcam a lot to have him see my progress or
when he uses video phone i can at same time listen to interpreter and watch him
sign with them as i try to notice what is being used as he signs and interpreter
talks to me.
Honest people making an honest effort rarely need to apologize -- yet they often
do apologize as a way of making it clear that any harm inflicted was certainly
unintentional. I know that is what you are doing now.
Sure I'd be happy to post the correspondence as you request, but just so you'll
know, there is a movement amongst some in the Deaf community to reclaim
the word "mute" and make it our own! There are indeed many Deaf MUTE
(capitalization for emphasis) people -- namely those Deaf who do NOT voice.
Within our community there are those who have actively blogged about and
promoted the concept of using the word MUTE proudly to denote being a Deaf
person who doesn't voice.
This movement is very similar to the movements that have taken place within
other communities to reclaim their labels. Do you consider the word "gay" to be
offensive? Or the word "queer?" Why or why not? Were those words offensive at
one time? Offensive to whom? (Implied vs inferred?) If they are no longer
offensive when and how did they stop being so? Isn't it logical to assume that
other groups will also eventually wrest their labels from the larger
(oppressive) society and dictate what those labels mean?
In a message dated 7/12/2011 8:19:06 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, rockiatrist
After reading your message i thought to myself, "I hope he posts his
reply to my email." Certainly a good point for a lot of people like me
studying the culture. I called Micah to just ask him directly and get a
response from him as to what his feelings are about the word mute being
used when people refer to him. Was interesting when he stated that it
never crossed his mind. I suppose the point is similar to what sign
people use for the word "gay" being it does vary. Seeing the title/name
of the organization "National Association for the Deaf" after the other
man directed me to article, and politely told me it was best not to use
the term, i thought he was speaking for everyone. Thank you for your
thoughts and opinion on the subject. I guess like Micah stated to me it
never crosses my mind when i hear various terms or words in reference to
my sexual orientation. Not to say that i don't see a lot of people get
furious when various words are used. *smile*
July 12, 2011
Culture is a moving target. Every once in a while I come across something I
posted online 10 years ago and I wince and think, "did I write THAT?!?"
People tend to think of culture as a melting pot. It isn't. It is like a
salad, with bits and hunks of food all jumbled together. The salad
evolves over time, but it is always full of bits and chunks of separate food
types. The challenge is when an eater sits down and sticks his/her fork into
the salad and comes up with a bit of onion and some chicken on that fork.
(This is very common if you get a salad at a fast food chain, they put the
meat on top to make it look more impressive.) He or she may initially
conclude that salad is mostly about chicken and onion.
It is not until a person has stuck his fork in and sampled many bites from
the salad bowl that the person has a true sense of what that particular
salad is all about. And it isn't until that person has eaten that "type" of
salad at a variety of restaurants in a variety of cities that he/she could
really be considered familiar with that salad. Even more interesting is if
he goes back to the same restaurant 10 years later and there is a different
chef preparing that "same" salad -- the salad may taste quite different.
When the NAD "says" this is the way it is, you should take
that as an indication that a very large percentage of the American Deaf
Community indeed felt that way about that topic at the time of that
article. THEN you start asking questions like: "How old is this article?"
"How 'hot' is this topic?" "Are technological or societal changes likely to
influence how this topic is viewed?"
Certainly, for many years the word "mute" was considered
"offensive" by the general Deaf community, but that was during the time when
"audism" (a form of racism against the Deaf) promoted the idea that being
able to voice was somehow better than being able to sign. Once you remove
"audism" where is the "offense" of being called mute? It is no more
offensive to be called "mute" than it is to be called "brunette," "Jew,"
"Gay," or "Black."
At the point when parents, administrators, educators, and Deaf adults start
communicating to Deaf children that being Deaf means to be part of a rich
and compelling heritage of language, culture, and community -- those Deaf
children no longer "take offense" at being called mute, but rather they see
it as a source of pride and identity.
[The Mute Room]
In the summer of 2006 I received an email from Marci Wilson, a wonderful
person and at the time interpreter coordinator for Carson City School
District in Nevada. She and I had discussed methods of encouraging the use
of sign language in the district and I had suggested the teachers create a
room or area that was to be a "highly visual environment" wherein the
participants (including the Hearing people) would communicate only in
sign language. She wrote:
<<Hey, we started our "silent classroom" on Monday.
The kids named it "The Deaf Room". They wanted to name it "The Deaf Mute
Room" because they see "mute" on the remote [control device] and it means
"no sound". We talked about the connotations from the past, but said it was
their choice...new day, new way and all...but they decided "The Deaf Room"
would be more accepted if Deaf adults came to visit. I love it! The
interpreters are a little reluctant but the kids love it, too. Thanks for
We now have a generation of Deaf who have a totally fresh understanding of
the term "mute."
Back in 2006 I wrote that "theoretically it would be possible for the term
'mute' to make an in-your-face comeback." This is no longer theory. Just as
there are zeitgeist websites out there devoted to "crip" humor for the
"severely euphemized," we are seeing and have seen semantic evolution of the