>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Hi, everyone. Happy Thursday. Thank you so much for attending our 6th webinar in our series. As a visual description, I have a blue background. I'm wearing a dark Polo with a NAD emblem. I am wearing white glasses. I am a Black woman. My hair is braided. Nothing fancy for you all today. I'm going to be talking about Real Talk, Good Action Intersecting LGBTQIA2S+ Identities and Anti-Racism Work. We'll be sharing journeys, and stories, and listening in a mutually respectful manner. Next slide, please.
Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Stephanie Hakulin. My sign maim is SJ and I'm an appointed Board member for NAD and my focus is on anti-racism work. House rules. We ask that you use the chat feature if you have a question and/or you can raise your hand if you would like to do in ASL. We'll make sure we allow for that access and for any comments, please ensure that your comments and/or questions are respectful. We will not tolerate any disrespect. And you will be asked to leave.
We want to recognize the land on which we live and sustain. We're gathered in the lands of indigenous Native-Americans. And we ask that you join us in acknowledging their communities and their elders, both past, present, and future generations.
Without further ado, I like to introduce our moderator Tommy Minch who will be moderating this evening's panel. Welcome, Tommy. The floor is yours.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Thank you so much, Stephanie. For a visual description, I have a blue background. I'm wearing a Black Polo shirt with unbuttoned on the top. I have a gray, well, actually not gray yet. My hair is Brown and it's swooped to the side. I have a beard that is mixed Black, Brown and white colored. I am a white gay man. And I use the pronouns he, his, him. And my name is Tommy Minch, as Stephanie mentioned. I am the chair of the LGBTQIA2S+ under the NAD. I am thrilled to welcome you all here to tonight's webinar.
Our folks will be with four phenomenal panelists. Wonderful diverse experiences, backgrounds, and so forth. And we're looking very much forward to sharing their stories with you. Each of them will navigate those journeys. And before we do so, I like to share that our conversation will be a bit different. You may have attended sessions in the past where moderators ask speck connections. This evening, we'll be approaching it in a different manner. We'll share one word and/or concept on the screen and then ask folks to free-form their conversation.
We will also have 3 poll questions that we'll share with you. And without further ado, I am beyond excited to introduce our first panelist who is Jerald J. Creer. Jerald, if you don't mind coming up to the virtual stage.
>> JERALD J. CREER: Hello.
>> TOMMY MINCH: And Jerald, would you mind sharing a visual description?
>> JERALD J. CREER: Yes, hello. My name is Jerald J. Creer. My name sign is a J on the cheek. I have a white background. It has a brick effect to it laying vertically. I'm wearing a blue shirt. It's a deep V neck with silver jewelry. I have on earrings. And my hair is pulled back to a bun in back. I am a Black dark-skinned individual. My pronouns are he, him, his. I'm gay. Umm, yeah, that's it. Thank you.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Thank you, Jerald. And if you don't mind, camera off while we introduce our next panelist, who is Josie Krueger. Josie, would you mind sharing your camera with us and introducing yourself?
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: Hello.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Welcome, Josie. Official description for those in the audience, please.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: Hello. This is my name sign, Josie, off the side of my head. I was born and raised in a Deaf family. Graduated from the School for the Deaf in Fremont. Attended Gallaudet. And at first, I identified as someone who's adopted. That's my identity. And then I changed my identity into someone being who is gay. Later on, I changed that identity to a transgender woman. My pronouns at this point are she, her, and hers. I am wearing glasses with a leopard print on the frame. I'm also wearing a purple blouse that is sleeve-less. And my background, it kind of looks white or off-white type of color. I'm currently at a restaurant just a little bit of FYI. So that's the background you see here.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Thank you, Josie. And if you could turn your camera off, we will introduce our next panelist. Thank you, Josie. Next we have Miki Smith. Miki, please turn your camera on and introduce yourself.
>> MIKI SMITH: Hello, everyone. My name is Miki Smith. This is my name sign. My pronouns are she, they. And I identify as a Black deaf queer individual. And I'm currently living in Portland, Oregon. And additionally, I guess that's probably all about me.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Would you mind a visual description?
>> MIKI SMITH: I'm a Black Deaf queer woman.
>> TOMMY MINCH: And juror background and clothing.
>> MIKI SMITH: My background is a gray material. I'm wearing a yellow sleeve-less shirt. Brown glasses, gray hat. My hair is in curly bangs that are a protruding in the front. And I have tattoos going down one of my arms.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Awesome. Thanks, Miki. And last but certainly not least, Ivy Velez.
>> IVY VELEZ: You caught me snoozing, Tommy.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Wake up, Ivy.
>> IVY VELEZ: As you know I'm a jokester. I'm Ivy Velez and I pronouns are she/her/hers. I'm wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt and background is white. And wearing a necklace with a tree of life. I do not want to show you the grays in my hair so I wet it before I joined you today so you can see the curls and not the grays. Super-stoked to be here. I am ready for some real talk, folks. Back at you, Tommy.
>> TOMMY MINCH: So as you have just been introduced, these are our four panelists for this evening. And our next slide is our first poll question for tonight. Which do you identify as? This is for the audience. LGBTQIA2S+, an ally, learning, or prefer not to say. Lizzie, would you mind showing the poll questions via Zoom? And please feel free to choose your response. There's a question in the chat as to where the poll is. It should have popped up on your Zoom screen. And here are the results. 36% of members in the audience identified as LGBTQIA2S+. 39% as an ally. 20% are present learning. And 5% prefer not to say. So there's a good balance out there in audience this evening. This is fantastic. So I would love for all four panelists to now turn their cameras on and join us for this evening's discussion.
Josie, Miki, Jerald, and Ivy, welcome back. Are you ready to begin real talk?
>> Yes, yes.
>> Let's do it.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Excellent. As I mentioned before, I will share a slide with one word. And then we will turn the PowerPoint off to allow for virtual stage focused on the four of you to engage in discussion. Lizzie, next slide, please. Our first term for conversation this evening is identity. This includes your journey, how you develop and selected your identity. And it includes also perhaps some struggles that you may have experienced. I will now shut-off my camera and remove the PowerPoint from the screen. The floor is yours.
>> JERALD J. CREER: Okay, yeah. Go ahead, Miki.
>> MIKI SMITH: Okay, yes, I'll go ahead and get started discussing this identity issue. You know, coming up in a residential school as a deaf individual, obviously, most of us have encountered these issues where you go to a school and it's vastly white. Vastly different from your home culture. I grew up in Black culture having that internalized. That's something I took in and I brought in. That's who I am. And very strongly in my family, and then to go back to a white residential school where that was typically erased, where the focus was more on being deaf, Deaf Pride, all way deaf. Race was not something that was necessarily acknowledged. And so that was a huge issue for me. So now I'm happy years later as I've gone through my high school years, that I've struggled to develop my identity, going to Gallaudet, NTID, having that identity finally come forth is like, oh yes, yep. I am Black, queer, that's who I am. I'm sticking with it and that's my culture. That's a part of me. From birth until now, that's who I am as a Black individual.
So to have that has made my journey quite interesting. If you can imagine going to a residential school where the importance is placed on bringing in deaf students, and giving them a sense of pride and acceptance in who they are as a Deaf person in Deaf Culture. And then from there, going and engaging in the language and culture. Learning sign language and having all of that as part of you is different than just being a Black person in the world.
>> JERALD J. CREER: All right, so, I'm 46. So I have a lot of stories to tell. I'm going to try my best to give you the nutshell version of all of that. But, yes, my background, I was mainstreamed. And I was mainstreamed all of my life until I went to R.I.T./NTID. And that was my first connection with the Deaf school and interacting with and being surrounded by majority of Deaf people. Before that, it was really a struggle for me with my identity as a deaf and hard-of-hearing person. For a long time, I did consider myself hard-of-hearing. Now I do consider myself deaf. So I had exposure in a lot of different types of schools. Both in mainstream programs with in elementary school, middle school, high school. In elementary school, I had a white teacher with friends and peers. Elementary middle school that is, it was more of a mix. More diverse friend group I was able to cultivate with my classmates. It was much larger school. And then when I finally got into high school, I was actually in a private school. And it was an all Black school.
But I was the only Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing person in that school. So all of these, you know, I found myself in very different experiences through all the situations. I didn't really find my gay identity until high school. I always felt it growing up. But it wasn't until high school that I really connected with that identity. That's when it really hit me. So going into college life, ooh! It was a lot of coming at me fast. So many different experiences, having different conversations with my friends, and I felt that really nothing prepared me. I mean, I wasn't prepared for anything whether that would be identity wise, financially, where I was going to live, my goals and aspirations, I never had that before I got into college. And even though teachers told me, it really never resonated with me until I saw people like me and I saw them having goals, and that made the goals more tangible for me. So that's what led me to discovering apply own identities.
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy. I'll share. Hello, everybody. Little bit about my identity is what I like to share with you and I like to repeat some of the experiences Miki shared in their upbringing in a residential school. I also come from a multi-generational Deaf family. And while my family was open, you have club about folks being gay, their identity was more so folks are deaf, and they are too. And so what my parents and my family instilled in me was even though I identified as a lesbian, they thought I was going to be a different type of lesbian. I had no idea what that actually meant until I look back at my upbringing and I realize the insecurities I had as my identity flourished. I know that Christy McNichol for those who are my aim, I saw her on the big screen and all kinds of juicy feelings were happening. And right then and there I knew I liked girls. But one of the problems was that the Deaf communities I was going up in wanted nothing to do with me. My family, if they found out I was a lesbian, I knew it would be the end of me. And that would have been a huge rejection in my family, both culturally. Deaf and culturally Latina. So it really hit me hard, mentally, physically, and so forth. And it was instilled me that Deaf identity is a priority. Even today, people talk about the Deaf Community and they say, what's the subgroup you belong to? And how behind so many of us in the Deaf communities are because we've siloed ourselves. Even as an advocate and as somebody who's a lesbian, I see this term queer that I have yet to accept because I was told not to growing up.
And I was told to avoid those vocabulary choices. Regardless of how much therapy and change, and learning, and education people go through, if you're not seen and lifted in the ways that you need to be lifted, then the community that you feel connected to within the Deaf communities, and the other intersecting identities don't shine equally to each other. I know that as folks, people understand that we can work together. And I, as Ivy, I'm somebody willing to work with the community. But I don't shine in certain ways because of the communities I live within and without. So I want to understand all of us as whole humans and to acknowledge that we are worthy.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: This is Josie speaking. I'm 57 soon to be 58. I'm a Leo, FYI, roar. So I grew up in the first, second, third grade in a deaf program at a hearing school. We were in what was called self-contained classrooms, meaning we were all deaf and all grades in one classroom. We were not mainstreamed with the other hearing students.
And I would always tell everyone in the classroom, my friends, hey, I'm a girl. I'm not a boy. I'm a little girl. I was about 4 or 5 or 6 years old and I was young telling my friends that. Later I went to residential schools. And the same thing occurred there. I'm a girl and I like boys. And people just kind of pushed that off as just being gay. I would say, no, I'm a girl. So that would mean I'm straight if I like boys. So I was forced at that time to accept the gay identity. As much as I tried to put that off and say that was not me. I discussed with my friends, my gender identity a little bit. But, get back, this was back in '80s. So there was no Internet. There was no counseling provided. There was no therapy. We used to go to the library to look things up. And I would try to get these books. And books were censored and hidden. My access was quite limited. Hearing people get to listen to things that are being said and spoken about, and develop their identities that way. I came from a much more limited background that way because I am deaf and this was something that was not talked about.
For society's sake, I just went along with the gay label. I entered Gallaudet. And once again, I would tell people I'm not a boy. I am a girl. And I actually met some people who were transgender while I was at Gallaudet. At that time, I was able to research via a book, more about the identity. And that really impacted me greatly. And so I started reading about the medical transitioning and the surgical transitioning. I was very impressed with the information I was able to obtain with that book. While I'm trying to focus on school and my life, I ended up putting off my transcription until the age of 46. That's when I started my medical transition. I took medication and did all the external things and I was thinking about the surgical procedure, but I said you know what? I'm just going to go ahead and start with this. I established my identity. And I called it being a golden gay. Which means I've never seen, never touched a woman. Like I don't have any experience with that. I've been with member exclusively. During my transition, I discovered oh, my gosh, I love women too. It was very confusing for me, because all of a sudden, who I was attracted to changed. And so I changed my identity at that time to be pansexual. So that's kind of like an umbrella term to include everything, I suppose? I say I am queer. I'm a transwoman. And so that's who my identity and that's been the shift, the transformation of that, me discovering new identities and labels for myself as things come up. I'm learning. I'm still learning and going through this process, even still.
>> MIKI SMITH: And this is Miki speaking. I want to do add something regarding identity. I lived in Austin Texas and I met quite a few people there. And I learned so much from the differ people and I was attracted to so many women there. And they looked at me as a player. No, all of my connections with the individuals I had out there were very strong connections. It felt very real to me. This was not something that I couldn't see just superficial. But it was interesting their perspective of my ass a player. And I acquired a new identity someone who as polyamorous. So something dirty, you're sleeping around with all these people at the same time? No, wait. It's okay for me to love more than one person and establish a real strong connection with more than one person. It's actually a beautiful thing. So it's interesting how my perspective and other's perspectives have changed as we acquired new understanding of new terminology. Polyamory, polyprimary Poly Connections. Queer Poly Connections. Pansexual. These terms that are more specific and describe who we are throughout our journey, as well as our transitioning as how we can imagine how we live our lives and navigate into what fits best for us and our lifestyles here on earth. This is what fits me. And to be able to socialize with other people who are understanding and who are learning, and on their own specific journals at the same time from such a variety of background. Their experiences and my experiences are sometimes similar and a lot of times it's different. So we need to make sure to take the opportunities to understand and appreciate and accept each other's identity without retribution allowing people to be who they are. And sharing our stories is so crucial.
>> I like to piggyback back on something. I was a natural born advocate. And I swear, the minute I hit this earth, I was always looking to support individuals. And when it comes to identity, let's say for example, for those of you who are unaware, I'm on the Cape and province town and it's a friendly area. And really, it wasn't folks who were in drag, it was trans people trying to live their truth. And so the ability to be exposed at that time to deaf gay folks, to deaf lesbians without understanding there was a word for me. That there was a label I could have embraced, because my majority Deaf Community wasn't embracing those terms.
So there were tons of folks that identified as queer individuals and didn't use the term yet. And they were deaf. Deafblind, deaf disabled, deaf hard-of-hearing, late-deafened and so on. I'm going on 55. And I have baggage there that can beat Louis Vuitton, and go to go these space and feel lost is both beautiful and overwhelming. Because where we have resources now is virtual. And it's still not enough as a visual person, as somebody who wants to literally taste all 36 flavors of all the things, I'm still building my identity. And as a Deaf person with significant types of privilege and a variety of areas, there's so many places I don't have privilege because information sharing, safe places in the community, and I'm going to tell you right now the community is still not safe. Which is gobsmacking to me, because how are we as a marginalized community still not safe?
>> JERALD J. CREER: Yes, I agree with both of you. And you know, I'm fortunate that I'm able to feel like I can understand easily without feeling all of those barriers that come with it. Because I remember when I first came out, I only knew, you know, men and women. They were supposed to be together and that's it. I remember in church, all these men and woman only. And that men and men, and women, and women couldn't be together and it always has to be a heterosexual relationship. So when I realized I was homosexual or queer, that old sign I just used, that was a negative term back then.
So then I remember gay. And I thought, oh, okay. I started learning about the word gay and learned about lesbian. Learning about LGBTQ. And I didn't learn that until college in '94 when I first entered college. And I remember feeling really, just it was a shock to me. What are these words? The feelings of maybe exploring femininity or being more in the middle of androgyny. I was trying to figure out where I fit in because I wasn't on the more masculine side. So finding, being a Black man from a Black family, we feel stuck in this box. You know, where you don't want to know any other, you know, phobe, any new terms. Anything new is almost seen as a threat to the family.
Our family tried to keep us safe and the way they stay safe in the Black Community is religion. And so when I hit college, and I just felt, again, that shock and confusion. But at the same time, I was a little bit happy to see there is something for me out there. And so when I talk with my friends in college, you know, I really had a hard time trying to, you know, navigate those conversations, because I didn't have any way to talk about it because my mother always told me no. You cannot talk about that. Whatever happens in the home stays in the home. But I needed to get those feels out. Those struggles and my Deaf identity and all those things I needed to talk about. And I didn't have the way or avenue to share it because I was told I wasn't able to share it with the world because it had to stay home. So I didn't really learn how to communicate that way until later. So that includes everything from identity for me as a Deaf person, to gay, to Black, I mean, I didn't really recognize, you know, intersection between poverty and wealth until I got into college.
And so you know, really, going through an education, having that education, learning so much, not just in the classroom, but outside of it as well, meeting folks who are Black, Latinx, Indian, and just having these experiences that I never had growing up as a young boy. So, yeah, it was a very difficult journey. But at the same time, I was so fortunate that I had that, you know, gut instinct to want to learn, to want to validate myself and to be around others.
>> MIKI SMITH: This is Miki here. Man, I tell you, as a Black deaf queer individual, I get it. I want to do expand little bit about my experiences working in the southern region of the country. Working at schools for the Deaf, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, you know, those southern states. I can recall maybe couple of years ago when I started working in Tennessee at the School for the Deaf there. And it was such a culture shock for me, because I automatically had to hide who I was. My true identity. Tennessee is in the middle of the Bible belt. And boy, let me tell you, they're very steadfast in that, staunch Republican type of mindset. But at the same time, I knew it was very important for me to bring my knowledge and my experience. And to be a role model for those students who might be struggling with the administration there. I mean, it was a very, very white school, very white administration. And so they were very resistant against new ideas. And I said, you know what? I'm going to go in there with my Black Deaf self. I'm going to be who I am. And I'm going to encourage these deaf and hard-of-hearing students. I'm going to feel connected to them. They're going to feel connected to me. We're going to have Black ASL as a similar language. And the administration there was very much resistant against anything new. They said you're trying to divide the students racially. You're trying to divide Black students against white students. And I said, no, what I'm attempting to do is provide a safe space for the students who might be in the queer community. Who might be Black, pronoun, or who have other types of differences. I want them to feel safe. And I want them to be able to establish their identity and be who they are. Do you know what I'm saying?
>> TOMMY MINCH: Miki, I'm so sorry. You're Internet is freezing a bit and I want to make sure we all have access. It looks as though it's come back to us a little clearer. And Josie, if you wouldn't mind tilting your camera a bit so we can have access to all of your signing. All right, Miki, the floor is yours again. Thank you so much.
>> MIKI SMITH: So I realized how important it was for the big head Honchos in charge, the administration, people who were above us, the educators there to really have them understand what these deaf kids need, what BIPOC kids need. And once again, this was the Deep South. So oh, my gosh, they move at a turtle's pace, and all the experience and all the knowledge I had to share, I struggled to be able to share that because of those in charge. So my identity, how I operated in the world, how I was able to move along, you know, these new ideas that I had that I was really ready to go and students were ready to have, the administration would come in would say, no, you're Black, queer, and deaf, and you're trying to divide these students racially? And I countered them with no, I'm trying to provide them with what it is they need. Space or not? So that's the thing I struggle so greatly with that. And now we're in the year 2022. And this was 3 or 4 years ago that I encountered this. So this is 2022. This is prior to that, let's get up -- get up to pace. Let's get with the times. Let's accept these new ideas. It's time for change and they were not ready for that.
>> TOMMY MINCH: This is Tommy again. Miki, you froze on your end a little bit few more times.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: Is mine better?
>> We have a chat for Jerald to scoot back a little too.
>> TOMMY MINCH: If you could move back just a little bit for folks to see you?
>> MIKI SMITH: I have everything turned off and there's nothing drawn up on the Internet. I have no idea why it's lagging so much. Is this better?
>> TOMMY MINCH: This is Tommy again. Just as a recap, Miki mentioned that the school for the deaf was assuming that their attendance was splitting White people from Black folks when really, they were allowing for an affinity space in a white dominant environment. So this is a perfect segue to a conversation I like to have about oppression. I like to double-check with Miki because they were having issues with the Internet.
>> MIKI SMITH: Am I good?
>> TOMMY MINCH: It's back and forth. But it looks like it's okay now.
>> MIKI SMITH: That's so strange. It was working great.
>> TOMMY MINCH: It's working now. So don't move too much yet. Next word I like to share is oppression. And for those who wish to share their experiences. And beer we go ahead with that, Miki, I want to double-check with you that you're okay. Because we want you to have access as well.
>> MIKI SMITH: I hope everything is good. Man, that's so weird.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Coming in and out. We'll do our best. And I'll turn my camera off as to not take up any bandwidth. And we'll remove the PowerPoint. And again, as a reminder the term is "oppression."
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy, Jerald, did you want to say something?
>> JERALD J. CREER: Yeah, I lost my train of thought but this could lead into the oppression session. I consider myself as a survivor of Deaf Culture and Deaf Education. And the reason why I say that is, I grew up with a hearing family. And I went to hearing schools, public schools, mainstream programs all way. Most of the time, you know, I was either the only deaf student in class or I was one of two or three other students in the entire school. And so that was a very oppressive experience as a deaf individual.
And I love my family. I love them. I love my friends. And I loved everyone I had back in the day. But I really did experience a lot of oppression, even though it was intentional, and they even meant well. There's a limitation to what they could learn as a hearing person. And being raised orally, and you know, at that time, learning to speak, I never got an appropriate education related to ASL. I never had an education that exposed me to Deaf Culture. All these things that were innately inside of me. And I felt my true language should be ASL and I was deprived of that. So I realized, I was able to take that back by my education, by going to NTID, by socializing with my deaf friends. And as a Black man, I feel I've experienced cultural deprivation as well, because religion focused so strongly on one thing.
And that is, you know, I guess I could have learned as far as leadership. I could have been better off than I am now. I learned so much through college. And college, I really had to learn hard way. And what it takes and to have that wealth of education. And there's really a lot out there for me to take advantage of and learn.
And within the LGBTQIA2S+ community, I feel a lot of oppression there as well. I feel like I need to stay within the Black group. Even though I want to socialize with my white friends, I want to not be limited to that box. But I have to use the white language or I don't share their experiences of privilege, I feel like it's kind of an ebb and flow. Maybe an on-and-off with them where I'm constantly doing all the work to accommodate someone else. And it is exhausting. I've done that my entire life. And so that is my experience of oppression.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: This is Josie here it's funny that you mentioned oppression. Looking at that word, living here in Washington State as I do, any time there's a politician that is proposing a law or something that gets passed, or something that gets defeated, in the Senate or in different parts of Washington State, there in Seattle, people in Seattle has one way of thinking as opposed to the rest of the Washington. So I'm used to it living in Seattle and being around more progressive areas. I have yet to experience the terrible violence of oppression as other people do as deaf transwoman, I have yet to experience that because I live in such a progressive area.
Moving to Vancouver, that's when the School for the Deaf is here in State of Washington. It's just north of Portland, just over the border of Oregon and Washington. It's very much in the southern port of State of Washington. There is such a strong Mormon presence in that area. So people are like, oh yeah, I live in Vancouver. So to me, it's striking, because the difference between Seattle and Vancouver is the difference in the oppressions you face. And oftentimes we don't have a choice in that.
So I prefer to go with my partner to Vancouver instead of staying here in Seattle. I'm very excited for new life, new challenges, and new opportunities. And I want to be supportive. And I want to be an advocate for people in that area in Vancouver, but what's going on down there? I've lived in 5 different states in my life. And it's always been pretty similar from town to town. Some of the same issues and same problems all over but this is something I'm not too sure about making the move to Vancouver and experiencing what's going to be going on down there.
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy. When folks talk about the concept of oppression, oppression can be both treacherous and uplifting. So when my parents said okay we're understanding of your identity, go be involved in the deaf lesbian community, until it was their daughter, then that's a very different experience. So when it comes to culture and values, and upbringing, and especially in a strong Latina family, their world broke down because they thought now we'll never have grandchildren and all the dreams we have for our baby is gone. So to be both internally and externally oppressed is to navigate what the fear is in that oppression.
And as a community, deaf communities are very small. If you go to another state, you still don't have a new life as a hearing person, because the Deaf Community is still so small and they will know if you dated a woman, or if you were solo, poly, or whatever you did. It's such a microcosm. And again, we have to ensure that we have mutual respect, safe spaces and education. So unfortunately, what I've experienced is that oppression forces us to choose one identity where we really need to embrace intersectionality. And open hearts, minds, and souls in order to embrace culture and value as well.
>> MIKI SMITH: This is Miki here. Based on my experience with oppression, I've often experienced racism clearly. Because that the first thing you see about me when you take a look at me is I'm Black. I've faced oppression due to the fact I am a woman. Women do this over here and men do this here. Excuse you? The third I'd oppression I faced with identity is being queer. Sometimes people look at me and can't tell I'm queer necessarily or that identity or visible as being Black. That's something people can often overlook or downplay even.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Yes, -- my apologize.
>> JERALD J. CREER: Yeah, I just wanted to mention and I don't know if this will make sense. But I'm going to try my best to articulate it. When you experience oppression, you can experience secondhand oppression. I can experience oppression myself, and I can also experience the oppression. If they say come on and do this. That's something that I learned while coming out. My Black friends maybe who isn't ready to come out. So me, trying to encourage them. And I start to feel that oppression they're experiencing, because I want to free them of that experience. So I'm trying to encourage them. I'm trying to include them, tell them it's not so bad to come out. This was my experience. And this was result of my experience of coming it and it's okay to, you know, socialize with your white friends, with your gay friends, and learn from a diverse group. And that we often tend to oppress ourselves because we want to stay in role of the Black Community or the world of Brown people. Stay where they're told because there's safety in that. So tell them no, you can learn more, you can develop more outside of this box, and also have that feeling of secondhand oppression.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: Jerald, you raised a good point. I felt same as being gay or trans. I allowed myself to be oppressed and I turned around and oppressed others. I owe press people in the same group. Because I will never pass. And pass, that means look precisely as a woman would. The undistinguishable from someone else. I have huge shoulders, I have big hands. And that's something that I'm just stuck with. That's my body. And I love and accept myself as I am. But am I oppressing myself because of that? Am I accepting? Am I doing that to other people? And that happens sometimes, we can't continue to perpetuate that.
>> TOMMY MINCH: I didn't want to interrupt another conversation so I think this is a great time for me to come forward with our next topic. And this relates to what folks have just shared. And that is race. Thank you, Lizzie, for sharing the PowerPoint. And I will leave this here for a moment. Folks have started the conversation about race. And I would be honored if you would continue.
>> JERALD CREER: Relating to oppression now and adding the race element, there's a lot in that.
For example, I honestly don't feel like I've experienced quote-unquote, what's the word I want to go for? Maybe discrimination. Maybe prejudice, yes. But not discrimination. Meaning I never felt like a White person told me you can't use that bathroom. Or you can't come into this classroom. You must stay here. You know? I never experienced that. I always felt welcomed by White people by and large. I always felt welcomed by other races. Or identities and other cultures, whether that be Latinx, Asian, Indian. I always felt welcomed.
But I've always had that underlying feeling of some type of barrier within a connection. You know, maybe saying I want to be like that, but I can't. Or I'm not given this opportunity, or allowed to move through world in a certain way. So that's the area I really experience, especially before.
And that underlying feeling really does play in the role of race and color. Maybe a White person would not understand what it's like to be a Black person. To be a Black person and go to a party. I have a great example. One of my white hearing friends, someone I became friends with. We met at the HRC, the human rights campaign. And we had very similar interests within gay rights advocacy, and the whole nine yards. And he asked me to pick him up to go to a restaurant. So I thought, fine. I was more than happy so I said give me your address. I came to my home, and, obviously, I could see some anxiety that he had while entering my neighborhood. And he started asking me so many questions. Are you really comfortable and are you really safe? Are you not afraid? All of these questions. And I thought, wow, I live here. I live here every day. And I never thought about fear. I never thought about these questions. It was normal for me to go around and live in this type of neighborhood.
And while I recognize that he wasn't used to this, you know, I told him I'm fine with my neighborhood. It's my street. It's very quiet. Yes, sometimes there's some other stuff a block over or so maybe that happens over there. That's where I felt that separation, that disconnect, if you will, with one of my white friends where they just don't seem to understand that they also have their own cultural differences and biases as well.
You know, again, that intersection between poverty and wealth. The Black Community has poverty and wealth as well. The White Community has poverty and wealth as well. We don't all fit into one category of social dynamic status. So a lot of my dating life, I saw this as well.
Where I struggled with these interactions. Base something on me and not the whole world. Let me become part of your world or you become part of my world instead of navigating based strictly on stereotypes. There's more to add but I'll give it to the floor.
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy, and race is such a loaded topic and a big challenge in the Deaf Community. Growing up with a Deaf family, we would always play cards, poker specifically with other Deaf families. And we lived in a poor area of the neighborhood. And my parents would say, there's two kinds of cards. A good card and not so good card. So when folks came to my area, they used the backup car, because they viewed our neighborhood as dangerous. And so my dad took a lookout at these cars and didn't say it blatantly. But in the family, he said, did you see all the cars folks used? And when we go to somebody else's place, my dad would say, all right, let's check out the cars parked in front of this house because it was a different part of the neighborhood. And it really struck me. Someone who white skinned Latina who's deaf, my privilege is different. In Puerto Rico, you see variety of people colors, shades and all of those things. And I struggled to see myself in those folks, because light-skinned privilege was seen as better than dark skinned privilege. And people would say, as my parents, they said I want you to be a part of the world. And they never assumed I would be a lesbian. So for example, in Latina culture, you have a quinceanera, and they would be dazzled. I love that Josie brought up her nails. But those are not part of my every day beauty, if you will. And quinceaneras were something that brought people out and introduced women to the world. And womanhood and culture, and the information that is in the Deaf Communities is very limited. And so when my identity was focused only on being deaf, my cultural identity was lost. So at 15 years old, I thought to myself, am I going to have quinceanera and then sleep with a boy and so when talking about race, it's so much deeper than the conference we can have in the hour's time. But there's so many different layers and those liars have extensions on them. And to be multiply oppressed as deaf queer and folks, how do you someone in the LGBTQIA2S+ function in that way?
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: This is Josie here. Ivy, as you're talking about that internalized oppression based off of race. Saying light skin is better than dark skin. Oh, my goodness, that's a mouthful. I have white privilege, but growing up, I did not know. I was not aware of that white privilege. I was just like, we're all the same. We're all here at the School for the Deaf. My friend would say, oh, I saw your car you came in. Your parents have a fancy car. And I would be like what are you talking about? All of our family has cars so what's the big deal? Until later, I realized my friends couldn't afford the type of vehicle my parents had. And that's when I became conscious of the differences and became aware and it was startling to me as well as language school. The School for the Deaf, there's some extremely mean people that are there. You know? They're very much get away from me, we're not a part of the same group. You can't come. Be over here with me. These kids often don't even know better. And looking back now on things we talked about and experienced, there are some mean kids at the School for the Deaf. Let me tell you.
>> MIKI SMITH: I would like to add on to that if I can. As we're talking about race, as I get older, and older, I really have to take a look at myself and take more ownership in Deaf Community for several reasons. For example, light skin privilege, I come from Deaf family. So I have that privilege. If I were to deny it and not to have had that experience, I wonder what the difference would be in me.
>> IVY VELEZ: You probably be knocked down a notch in privilege.
>> MIKI SMITH: I have to own that. As part of the Deaf Community, I certainly have privileges that have been afforded me. So my family, we come from privilege. We have access to one another. My parents, my siblings, cousins, we all sign and we're all ASL fluent. We're all deaf. So to try to figure out how to set aside my Deaf identity and go out in world, first as someone who is Black, let's be clear as I try to navigate the world, that's what immediately upon looking at me, you don't see me I'm deaf. You see I'm Black, period, right? So back in day, you know, I would be like, oh my Black culture, I need to hold that little bit closer to me and show the world I am deaf. That is what comes to the forefront. Leather not express myself as a Black individual. Let me express myself as deaf. However, as I've grown and matured, I realize that should be opposite. The Black culture, Black ASL, that is who I am proudly first and foremost. And so growing up, race was more like oh, you know what? Let's be color blind and let's just focus opposite fact you're deaf and cultivate that Deaf identity. Oh your family background. You have deaf parents. You're going to be awesome. Her brother is going to be a coach. But wait, what about my identity and who I am as a deaf Black person? That's what I have to find myself emphasizing over and over because people want to overlook that.
>> JERALD CREER: Speaking of when you're talking about ownership, you know, as you become older, I'm same. I'm taking ownership of my own race. I remember back when my sister and some other friends, a lot of them would use that term Oreo. The idea that you're trying to be Black. And that you're secretly white. And it's like I'm trying to achieve something. I'm not saying Black community is bad. Not at all. But I'm saying that I have goals. And I want to advocate, you know, and set an example for my Black Community that we can survive, that we can thrive. And that ownership and taking an active role in advocacy, you know, to give an example of what I can do so that other people see that and feel empowered to do the same thing. So for example, let me backup. When it first hit me, it's when I graduated with my masters program and I moved to D.C. And I was interacting with a mix of deaf and hearing in the Black Community.
And I didn't realize that those people that come from, you know, historically Black colleges or universities, HBCU, that they have a lot more education than I do. And I learned so much from them. And we would share that knowledge between two of us. And it was really a different type of separation between the two of us. And I really had to learn why, you know, Black people felt oppressed. Why they felt oppressed by folks that don't go to HBCU. And that was a huge challenge in my life during my time in D.C. So race does play a big role in my life in a lot of ways.
Because our Black Community has to work hard, has to be resilient, we have to stick together. And I'm not trying to be mean. But not in the sense of being mean, but being tough, because we're constantly having to advocate p really convince others to see us as we are.
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy. My mom is a role model in so many ways, and she always said regardless of if you're poor, you must dress the part. Walk, show up, say we are here. We belong. You always walk that walk. And I didn't understand what that meant, because we always took the public bus. We always had to deal with hassles to get to places. But my mom never gave up, whether it was a workshop or deaf club, she said deaf Latinos, Latinx Community members can do this. And we need information. And we don't get it out there from our deaf white counterparts.
And until I connected with other folks who had hearing Latinx families did I realize that, wow, these singular deaf folks in a hearing family who didn't share language were missing out on so many of those cultural stories. So I can see the gaps. And I can see that race plays such a part in developing an identity, which also comes with this sort of internal meter that says this is not appropriate in this culture. And it's appropriate in that culture. And Deaf Community members will often ask why are you not doing that here? And it conflicts with those intersect, identities. And it's impossible to share when your intuition says do not do something. And a lot of times, these conversations allow for a great opportunity to digest things in a very different manner. But Deaf Community is not just a bunch of white deaf folks. It really is intersectional.
>> MIKI SMITH: This is Miki here. I wanted to add to that. Growing up, going to the residential school from age 4 when I entered, I would come back home and my mom would say, hey, it's important that when you go back to that school, you follow what those White folks say. They're going to help you succeed in life. They’re going to help you get to where you need to go. Keep in mind that when you come back home, be yourself. You're a Black girl. You are soulful and we do what we do here in this house. But when you go out back there to that school, you do what they tell you to do. You assimilate with what them White folks tell you what to do. They're going to help you. And I would think to myself, I have to not just code-switch, but I have to switch out my identity. I have to suppress racially when I go back to school and just take on that identity of who I am racially speaking. And when I go back home, this is where I get to be who I am as a Black Deaf person using Black ASL, et cetera. So that was impactful to me knowing that in Deaf Community, this is what was required of me.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: That's interesting to me. I thought hearing people were smarter and what I had to follow was the best. And deaf White people were right in your life. And it was the hearing people. They knew what was going on if they were hearing. That's what was valued. And so I realized later on that there are many people who are hearing who can't afford to go to college. They're hearing. They can't afford to do X, Y, and Z. But me as a Deaf person I had a huge support system still do with voc rehab, with my parents. I was able to get my Bachelor's degree. My master's degree. And that's a lot more than some hearing people who don't even attend college at all. They graduate or not and they go to work and they live like this very static life where they're not able to socially climb or economically climb. So I was able to grow. I was able to travel and experience college, and do whatever I wanted to do. And I was exposed to so many amazing things in life. I didn't have to stay home in one town like some hearing people do. So it's just really something different. It flips what I thought on its head. So we are not any less than anyone who is hearing.
>> JERALD J. CREER: Yeah, I just want to mention when I was working in school environment, and within behavioral health setting as well, I remember working and having a team of people who wanted to respect different cultures, different ethnic cultures. And so different ethnicities. So I remember feeling excited about that, really wanting to learn. But I realized that it wasn't enough. Sometimes it's just a one-day event.
But it's a one-day event to really know what it means to be involved in Deaf Community. Or at least these different subcategories of the Deaf Community. So I really wish these events happened every day. Now, of course, within the working world, working as a team, they respect me as a Black person. With whatever experience I share, I feel respected by that, and we support each other.
And that's where I am right now. But I really wish that I saw more of that out in the world.
>> TOMMY MINCH: What a fabulous discussion. You feel ready to move on? Lizzie, the PowerPoint, please. Okay. Now let's take a moment to share our next poll question. And question is do you know what intersectionality means? And I've just signed it for our audience for those who may not be aware. So let's start with our poll question. And we'll see what the results are after folks have an opportunity to respond. Okay. 74% of our attendees responded yes. And 26 responded no. Thank you, folks, for responding. My next two words are ones that you have already brought up in conversations. So I'll put those aside and jump to another conversation, which is dating life. And then after we talk about dating life, we will then talk about coming out. And don't say gay. We saved that for the end and the wrap-up. If then we'll open up for audience question and answer. Before we move on with dating life, I would like for folks if they would like to comment on concept of intersectionality and what that means for each of you individually.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: It's really funny. I feel that word applies to anyone and everyone. We all have different experiences. Some people say, oh, no, that's not for me. That's only for Black people. That only applies to that race. It's something specific for them. White people don't experience intersectionality. And I think to myself, why would you think that? It's fine. We all have intersectionality. We all experience different parts of ourselves. So I think that's an interesting perspective to say it's only for Black people. I was born and raised as someone who was adopted. So often my parents would come to school and people would say, who are those two people? Because we don't favor each other. My brother and sisters are Korean. There's four of us. And I was only one who was white. My parents are white also. But it wasn't obvious that we were related. We don't look alike at all. So that's one thing. So that's part of my identity. And then as someone who is deaf, I know some Deaf people say, you know, I'm not deaf. Or they're ashamed of signing and they don't really embrace that identity. Whereas I do. I am deaf and proud and I'm fine with that. It's not something weird or strange. If we're out at a restaurant or if I'm going to the gas station, or I remember there was a friend who road with me and we were driving somewhere, and she said how is your mom going to get gas and this was back in the day where there was no self pumping. And so how is that going to happen? Just watch. So my mom would point to which of the 3 pumps she wanted to use. 87 octane or whatever. And she would sign it and the attendant would understand. So my friend didn't know what that transaction looked like for someone who was deaf. Or if we go out to a restaurant, should would sign under table. What are you ashamed for? Lift your hands up. So as I acquired another identity of being gay. People would say, oh, my God, you're gay! And...? What about it? So I added on to identities as I went through my journey in life. And to add on trans to identity. And before I transitioned, I can't tell people I'm trans. Looking like this. But I realize I have to own my identity. So I tell people prior to transitioning, I am trans. And some of my friends knew I was trans. And they would never call me that. And I would say, they would say, oh you're a man. Or you're a woman. Or whatever the case would be. But we would never specify gender and say I was transgender. And so that was something that they began to have to own. And I said this is me. This is what you have to refer to me as. I am a woman. And so sometimes as a woman, you're looked at as lesser than, because you aren't a man. So being deaf, and having ASL as a language, and having that identity being someone who is deaf. Big D Deaf opposed to little D/deaf. So that's why I'm a little bit confused when people say, oh, well, you know, I don't know if I'm allowed to say intersectionality as someone who is not Black.
>> MIKI SMITH: I really wanted to take this moment to tip my hat off to some specific people, like Najma Eliana. And people who lived in Austin when I lived there in past who really taught me the meaning of that word. Intersectionality. That's where I learned it from. That group people when I lived in Austin Texas. And I remember at that time, Stephanie, it was a huge thing in Austin that people would say what's your intersectionality? You would go to a workshop and it was just jaw dropping for me. And looking back on that and seeing appearance and being traumatized of things I experienced in my life along with my journey, and some of the struggle I experienced, it is amazing to me that I've been able to not just understand and work within intersectionality, but also be physically in those spaces and occupy that. And I can remember there's rich people, and poor people, and realizing I have been privileged to just learn about that after the fact and got have to experience a lot of that. So people who don't understand that word intersectionality, you have to kind of go through the journey and ask questions. You have to do your research online. You have to check out some social media platforms and really deeply look at yourself and understand what that word is. And engage in discussion with people. Not just White people. It's like let's have a conversation all way around. So I think that my time is up here, but I just want to do thank some people who I feel really close to who have really connected with me. Helped grow, something develop, and grow, and who socialized and taught me and as I look at it and apply it to myself, helps me understand and interact with people who are different than me. So in my current life and current journey, as I'm transitioning into different parts of my life, I am not only able to under it and how it applies to myself but instruct other people and engage in open dialogue with other people and disseminate information. There are even curriculums that are very much more inclusive that are trying to be at least. And sometimes you see ditch curriculums that try to downplay the importance. We're at residential school and we're all deaf. We're all deaf. We need to go back to curriculum and, hopefully, include that. And as we are able to examine the curriculums in the school where we're teaching and working, where we're sending our kids, is inclusion part of it? Is equity part of what we're doing and try to promote? And so, that intersectionality, that word being able to identify the ditch pieces of a person as they intersect, how it might affect them as they apply for a job. I know when I go for a job, you as a White person see me as a Black person. But sometimes there's this piece and that piece. And as a male boss they say I'm not going to hire you. So let's look at the intersectionality process. I decide what my identity is. You don't get to decide for me. I'm Black first and foremost. I am second, deaf. And I have right to rearrange who I am in way that suits me. Because it's my story. It's my journey. It's my narrative. And so I get to choose all these pieces of me. Here's this word intersectionality and this is what it means to me. And let me show you who I am. And as a community someone who goes to a residential school and has work there, try to create safe spaces for students so they can discover who they are. So sometimes we have to really sit back and marinate on those things. We really have to think over how are we expressing ourselves? How we have go through change in our lives. And don't resist the new ideas that are put out there. There are new ideas coming out that can make a difference. And that can provide safe spaces for students wherever it is they are.
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy. I like to piggyback on something Miki said and the question is how. Mine is deaf, hard-of-hearing, Deafblind, because folks in the Deaf Community don't talk about race. We've gone through years of oppression and this toxic means of information and how we can actually navigate these conversations is very heated. So when we talk about this deaf community coming in to a conversation, and actually, navigating it transparently, that's when we make change. What do we do and do we dismantle and abolish and create new? Because we talk about having open dialogue, but when people show up and say I am deaf first and foremost and they don't honor something, like Miki just said who can rearrange which identity comes in which spaces. When you sleep, dream, and one activity and one spot. And people in 2022 are saying hey, White folks, you are not number one. And we have to get out of this check the box thinking. And sometimes it's about looking at the clothes in closet and saying, okay, I'm ready for short sleeve, long sleeve, spaghetti strap. I know I have to code-switch and navigate different spaces and cultures and so forth. And how do you continue doing that while honoring your own intersectionality, and honoring how it happens? And not assuming that you are the end-all and be-all. Really, for us to be able to say to the Deaf communities, don't just accept that what you're being told is what you should do. Honor your own.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: This is Josie speaking. Oftentimes my identity change based on who I'm speaking with or to. People will come up to me and not be sure who I am. But they know I'm deaf. Or if I'm walking in mall and people see me, they can identify quite easily that I am trans. And so that's identity I'm occupying at the moment. If I'm with deaf friends, who I am, my identities change. Did you go to college? Do you have a degree and do you come from a Deaf family? So those are the questions most important. So high identity is based on who I am with and where I'm going. And some of those things, that's how it really works, actually.
>> JERALD J. CREER: Yes, I agree with that how and the what. Because I remember feeling like, you know, I didn't know. Five years ago, that I learned that word and pre-dating that, I didn't have a word for what I was feeling. The what, how, all of that was held internally without any sort of label to help me get through it. And so before I came out, I knew that there was a term for gay. But I didn't know that term until someone told me. And so the sharing, that term, intersectionality really allows us to take ownership and partnership and pride within ourselves. It's more about allowing ourselves to a identify who we are than it is for other people to tell us who we are. It's a way for us to share who we are in a more nuanced manner.
And it gives people the opportunity to respect experiences that we had. So with me, I code-switch a lot. Every day. I'm Black. Again, Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, and you know, I'm scared Simons. And trauma comes up. And it's all about how to be myself naturally. I was always afraid to say what I wanted to say. But I'm able to express myself. So it became about embracing who I am and allowing myself to learn and show who I am. And how to show other people what we can do.
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy, I like to add to the intersectionality conversation. It's important to understand there are organizations within deaf communities and sometimes organizations create unsafe spaces. Intentionally or not. And for quite some time, I've been part of a variety of organizations in Deaf Community. And when I get to an unsafe space, it's very clear to me which identity I should show. When I show up as deaf, because deaf may be safe for this particular space. And when we talk about Council de Manos, this is where I bring my Latinx heritage. This is where community collective where we truly talk as peers, and I first thought to myself, my gosh, why are we talking about all these things? And when I took a step back and understood my privilege, I then recognized how save this space was for me. And I thought to myself, you are damn right this is a safe space and we should have done this forever ago. And is thinks the principle. I'm on the Council de Manos, and it's a principal that we employee and we also want to ensure that people who come here know that it is a safe space. And it's not just about a check box thing which oftentimes organizations do. It's about unpacking work every single day.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: Wait, did we get to the topic of dating life?
>> TOMMY MINCH: We could talk about dating life for a brief time and we can move on to the don't say gay coming out part. So please feel free to share. Dating life stories, and this is really wonderful work that you're all sharing with us. That up so much. And lots of Kudos in chat comment as well.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: Okay, so, part to transitioning and identifying myself as gay. I lived the gay lifestyle I date men. And I had sex, sexual experiences with men. That's what it was for me. As I started my transition, I thought to myself, you know what? My dating life is probably over. I'm never going to find anyone for me. This is it. And fortunately, I was wrong. Because I then met my partner of 9 years currently. And it didn't matter that I was trans, that I was deaf. I'm still able to meet that right person for me and have that relationship. And meeting other people who had the same experience, they found who was the one for them along their way. And I said, you know what? I'm not over. I'm not out of game. So this has been great.
>> MIKI SMITH: No, you go ahead. No, I've been talking a lot, Miki, it's all you.
>> IVY VELEZ: So when we talk about culture identity as a Latinx individual, I had every cross and crucifix like sister Mary Joseph. And when it comes to dating as a lesbian, we were thinking hetero thinking. And this person had a status that's better than this person. And when you think about same sex power struggles and the awkward dating feeling, you know that sort of new feeling when you're dating in high school. If then you break you, and it's a mess. And it's dramatic. And it end up feel like a TV show. We have to remember that dating happens for a reason. And today, gay, lesbian, pride happens and I think to myself, my gosh, I wish I had that because my quality of life would have been so different as a young lesbian individual. But we didn't have permission to do that. We didn't have to permission to live our truth. And it was about, maybe practice is the wrong word. Maybe it's developing. Developing and holding it until freedom. How did we do that?
>> MIKI SMITH: Wow, man, dating life can be tough in the Deaf world. It's small as we're very well aware of. Everyone knows everyone else that makes it tough. And sometimes you'll date someone. And you'll say, hey, I'm a solo poly. I'm Demisexual and is this okay and we'll keep moving and dating along the way. And some people I've dated were like, hey, what is it you're doing? You into Ed to focus on me. It's one-and-done. And I'll have to say, no, no, no, going back, remember I told you I was solo poly and identity sexual and I have this conversation and I'm developing this relationship with you. We can be together. We need to develop an emotional connection before I sleep with you. But I'm also interested in dating other people at the same time. And people in Deaf Community, I don't know if they have fully understood. But now the term poly, and things like that are gaining more attraction in the community. But I have struggled personally. Why do I feel this way with this person? Why am I liking them but I want something more with somebody else? Somebody, I might look at just as a platonic friendship and say you're gorgeous and perfect as you are but this is all it's going to be in this relationship. So trying to find new ways to express that and new terms to apply to that as I find out who I am and who I want to be with. So, sometimes I feel like do I need to dress more masculinely? Sometimes I feel like, man, I just want to wear my dress and express my feminine side. So being a queer person, it's that internal struggle sometimes. So my current journey in transition is me really trying to figure out who I am, analyze my feelings. Do something self self-introspection and be transparent and be open with them. But I wish I could see more training and workshop associated with dating life in general especially as someone in the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community. It's a small world, however, it would be nice to have that opportunity to learn more about these sexuality and gender-specific terms as it relates to us in the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community. So we would know, oh, that's not for me. Let me do this, I'm more of a one-on-one monogamous situation. And I would like to have these discussions with people and have them know that you have an opportunity to be whatever you want. You're not put into this cookie-cutter box of this or the other. So being able to share my journey and have other people really journey for themselves.
>> Yes, there's really so much to say in relation to the dating life.
>> JERALD J. CREER: But I wanted pick for example, when we're talking about how you're dating circle shrinks overtime. When you talk about the big circle, you have, if you're a White man, it's big open for gay and lesbian. And so then maybe you want to narrow it down to Latino, Asian, and your dating pool gets smaller and smaller. For me, cultural diversity, I feel like I almost have no options within the Black community because Black people, I mean, there's not many Black gay lesbian folks within the community.
And it's not that I don't want to be with a white or Asian individual. It's just that when I came out, you know, when I thought where do I lead my life from here, learning about gay and lesbians, I couldn't learn from Black Community. So I had to learn from the White Community, but they already established LGBTQIA2S+ and the whole nine yards. And later, I found, MOCA, men of color and health and awareness if that focused on the Black Community. But I had to start with White Community first. And then learned about myself. So dating as a Black man, I started online dating way back in day. And advent of online dating. And then when I went into college, you know, I started dating Latino. And third, I dated a White man. So it was really tough for me.
Looking for someone who could really understand the meaning of being in relationship with someone. Someone who honors all parts of me. And I face all these barriers within the LGBTQIA2S+ community. And I know that it's not only happening within LGBTQ Community, sure, I know it happens in the straight community as well. But one big road block where I found myself was learning to be in a healthy dating life.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: Prior to social media, it was just straight or gay. And not knowing what existed and what trans looked like. So there were no role model that was available to us. Now we have social media, and we have more things in TV and different communities pop-up. And so this is great. It's a wonderful thing for us to be able to experience more of the varieties. People speaking out loudly and proudly about it. And maybe other countries don't allow that type of representation in their media. So they're very much oppressive of those identities. So it's interesting to see that here. There are still people in the dark, sort of speak, people who still don't know how am I going to act out in the world where the rules of sexuality? What morals am I ingesting and what am I showing to the world based on what my sexuality is.
>> TOMMY MINCH: This is Tommy coming in with a gentle reminder we have approximately 20 minutes left. And I love to give folks an opportunity to talk about the recent Florida law talked about that says don't say gay as I have here as coming out. So I like to remove the coming out focus. The conference in Orlando is coming in a few weeks so I want to ask for your opinion about the loss and I like to wrap this up and allow for questions.
>> JERALD J. CREER: So I work with deaf youth currently. Right now I live in Rochester. And I work within an agency called deaf decision Inc. And I am a coordinator there. So I work with deaf youth. Wanting to make sure they have authentic transparent conversations with other deaf community members within Massachusetts.
And so that don't say gay really impacted me. And I was devastated when I learned about that. I just really fearful for the youth in Massachusetts that they would learn from that before I -- you know, so I wanted to have discussions about this topic. And really talk about this situation and how it happened, because I can't imagine how that information will impact youth in area. So I was really fearful that this toxic approach in a Florida was taking would spread nationwide.
And so we're currently in the process, our youth is currently in the process of coming out, tackling intersectionality, because when youth are coming out sooner and sooner, you're starting to see children identify who they are very early ages, and to have that taken away from them at such an important time period is really devastating.
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy. Don't say gay leaves me in sort of a crux, because I'm a delegate for NAD and also a lesbian. For those who are not familiar, Massachusetts is a very liberal blue states and one the leaders in gay marriage. And to think of that all the while my support for NAD, and being present in Florida is something I don't have an easy answer to. I am being judge by Deaf Community and the Deaf queer community. And they're saying why are you still going? And I'm struggling with that question, because I'm going with the intent for positive change. And I have hope. And my reason for going is because I don't ever want to sit and do nothing. I'm not a bystander. Remember my mother said you always walk. Walk to noise. Walk to chaos. Always show up. And I want to always aim for positive change. And I also applaud NAD for getting up and talking about their stance and their support. And we certainly will see what happens while we're in Florida and perhaps this is a good test to see how to navigate it.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: This is Josie here. Yeah, you're 100% right. We will speak up and speak out about that. The law that's been passed. Hopefully it will fail and be swept under the rug and be just a sad part of history. And we can move on from there. It's very hurtful to the young people, because it's like you can't talk about who you are? It's a ridiculous law, and I'm so sad this is even been something we have to talk about. It needs to be done away with. Period.
>> MIKI SMITH: This is Miki speaking. To be honest, that term don't say gay, it hurts me to core. Because growing up what my experience has been in trying to establish and discover my identity, and even my late 20s, once I was able to just glom on to that identity of myself as being someone queer. Now I look at the new generation and I'm amazed and floored. There are 12, 13-year-olds, yeah, I'm trans. It warms my heart. It makes me so elated to see young people knowing who they are and being determined to express who they are at such a young age. Now with don't say gay spreading, it's happening at this time in history where, you know, how back in past, Deaf people had to fight and struggle against oralism, against being forced to wear cochlear implant and things like that and being able to be loud and proud with ASL. And we've gotten that. And School for the Deaf, kids are able to sign and be able to be who they are and express themselves in their sexuality and gender, now we are going back to times of, no, let's not talk about is this. Times where deaf schools are closing and their numbers are shrinking due to economic issues. In past, what would happen is that we would stay in closet, and then 18, 19, 20, college-age, we come out. And now it's gotten to the point where people say, you know what? We're doing too much. Let's go back to the olden days where it's a man and woman, and they were harder and they had kids and moms stayed at home. That's what is happening in Florida with the don't say gay. So we're at this point in history where we're at a tipping point. Where we can go ahead if move forward and change and improve? Or we can revert to olden time but that was oppressive. So I say we forge ahead. And we help people who they are and welcome their identities that we are inclusive to everyone and we encourage people, kids to know who they are. This is a very important time in history. And this don't say gay is really heart-wrenching.
>> Do we want to open for questions?
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: I just want to have last word. Social media is out there. You are not going to be able to hide. We have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and all the different platforms out there. TikTok, all of it. You think that's going to shut people up? That's not going to happen. It's going to be continued to be discussion. People are going to learn from one another even if it's not available elsewhere.
>> TOMMY MINCH: This is Tommy. This conversation has been phenomenal. We have one last poll question for audience. Poll reads did you learn a lot from tonight? And responses are, yes, learned a lot. And/or I need to learn more. And the poll is now open.
>> TOMMY MINCH: Look although these numbers. 74% said yes, I learned a lot. And 26% said I need to learn more. The purpose of these poll questions helps us find out you want to learn more. Miki said solo poly and Demi sexual and what do these things mean? A lot of people are suggesting a dictionary of terms they learned this evening.
Lizzie, next slide, please. We do have some resources to share with you, including the ones list on the PowerPoint. Rainbow alliance for the Deaf also known as deaf RAD. Deaf query source center, DQRC. The NAD LGBTQIA2S+ section. And your local LGBT plus organizations in your respective states. As you're here as a queer identifying individual or somebody of the LGBTQIA2S+ communities, and/or an ally, you can reach out to your organizations to find more information. Thank you, Jerald, Miki, Ivy, Josie, for all these phenomenal things you shared with us this evening. This is just the beginning. We have only scratched the surface when it comes to these conversations. I genuinely like to thank you. People have Kudos and they're so thrilled and I hope to see many of you in two week at NAD. Before we open up for some questions, I like to ask Stephanie if she would like to share.
>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Is there advice that you have or tips you would like to share as members of the LGBTQIA2S+ communities? Let's start with Miki.
>> MIKI SMITH: I would say open up your mind. Open up your heart. But not just that, listen and ask questions. What end up happening a lot of times is people make assumptions or they based it off feelings and they don't ask for clarification. Ask. Listen to what the answers are. Open up your mind. Open up your heart. And be receptive to it. That's it. That it's all. That's all you need to do. Meet different people. Don't just stick with your own flock of folks.
>> IVY VELEZ: This is Ivy. Not only that, yes, to listen and also to take feedback as a gift. And to be a member. Be part of the conversation. Don't just ask for information. Include us. Ask us to be part of your learning. Yes, and sponsor our events. If you want to work in accomplice ship with us and be part of our celebration. It goes both ways.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: This is Josie here. The bottom line and what is most important for us to remember is that we are people. We're humans just like you. We have our own dreams. We have our own needs. We have our own goals. Just like everybody else. We're not any different just because we're trans, or you know, that doesn't mean that we don't want to have home ownership like you guys. That doesn't mean that there's someone else who's gay or lesbian who doesn't have dreams of having children and having job of their dreams, and being able to travel or go to college, or whatever it is that you want to do, we all want those same things. So we're here together sharing our stories, sharing this land, sharing the earth together. Remember that.
>> JERALD J. CREER: And I would like to say allow yourself to be open. And really unpack all these things you learned and whatever is preventing you from connecting with people as a human.
Learn about us. Learn about the LGBTQIA2S+ organization. Learn about children and families. And you probably have one or two LGBTQIA2S+ individuals in your families and they may be afraid to come out based on comments or negative thinking you displayed. So it's really important to allow yourself to be open-minded, to unpack, to be open-hearted, to see what the source of these negative values are coming from. And that's really a great start.
>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Thank you so much for those tips. Tommy, any last comment?
>> TOMMY MINCH: Please think about our youth. Please think about our future. And make sure that they are and feel safe. This is a key word now, especially, in this political climate. Social media is inundated with harmful messages. And I want to ensure that our youth has a safe place to go to and they feel lifted and safe.
>> JOSIE KRUEGER: And parents and friends and adults tend to have that, oh you're gay? And have an attitude. Have a disillusionment about it and put on a facial expression and not accepting of it. Your kid sees that. Be very careful. Make sure they're not drawing in negative energy from you regarding who they are and their identities.
>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Thank you so much for your tips. And I want to recognize that there are a variety of terms that folks have seen and they're sharing in chat. And I want folks to understand that we're honoring identities that are gay lesbian, queer, trans, poly, monogamous and I learned a new term that Miki was sharing and I was eating that stuff up because there were really fantastic terms I learned. Now we're going to attend the NAD conference two weeks from now and I feel more versed in supporting the LGBTQIA2S+ communities along with folks who are Black, indigenous people of color, and Asian representing. I know there are folks who want to continue NAD webinar attendance, and we will do so on a monthly basis. Please let us know what else you want to see. Please let us know what else you want to learn. Share that with us. We will then see you hopefully in July and August. We'll be talking about intersectionality. We will talk about racial justice. We will talk about a variety of topics. And again, I want to close with saying thank you for your openness, your transparency, for your beauty. Sending so much love and care to each and every one of you. Thank you for attending, folks. And goodnight.
>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Again for joining us this evening. Thank you for coming to webinar. We look forward to seeing you next time. And NAD favorite word is goodnight! Thanks, folks, and take care.