When I was little, I knew there was something different about me that separated me from the rest of the people I knew. I wondered what it was. It was incredibly easy to categorize all these feelings of feeling different into being hard-of-hearing, but my instinct told me otherwise. There was something else that made me different from mainstream society.
I never dated in school and would see others who did and wonder about how they dated. There were people who were interested in me, females, but I never was interested back, in a romantic way. If I was interested, it was as a friend. I remember thinking about marriage in school and wondering how it worked. I figured marriage was just like on TV where the husband and wife have a clever banter and sometimes didn’t get along, but usually they did.
I wondered about who I would marry. It felt as if I needed to make a right decision, even though I was very young. Now, I can see that the societal pressures to make these sorts of decisions was involved as was my desire to make the right choice and figure out what the choice was without waiting.
At multiple school dances, I would dance with girls I liked as friends or acquaintances. Even as young as I may be, it was very clear that I was different than the other people in the room who were dancing with their crushes.
There was no guidance given as to how to navigate this strange land. Fortunately, as I grew up, I began to understand more about heteronormative culture and how gay experiences are often marginalized. The dominant discourses regarding what is normal in terms of experience frequently don’t include anyone besides straight people.
I am fortunate to have friends from school despite the non-affirming experiences. There were still people who accepted me regardless of my hearing loss and sexual orientation. I will forever remain grateful for their pure acceptance. I think back and am curious as to whether they had questions that they didn’t address with me. We never really talked about it. But maybe they just were so accepting that it seemed trivial to question my differences and how that would impact our friendship. Sure, we might have difficulties now and then with communication, but these friends make the effort to ensure I’m able to hear them.
People who don’t make accommodations seem like a chore are so welcome in my life. These people know how to adjust without suggesting any inconvenience as they see it as simple and not problematic. I’m thankful to have a group of people in my life who do this for me. If you’re reading this, I thank you.