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TEXT OF THE VIDEO

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Deaf Identity

 

During my childhood I identified like a normal person, which is to say that with my parents,with my brothers and sisters I found thatwe were all equal, all the same.My parents didn’t give me any specific education about this subject.Then I went to secondary school, got my diploma, and it’s at this time that I really did a lot of personal learning independently,it wasn’t my parents that gave me a particular education, so when I got my diploma I moved to Montreal, and that’s where I saw that really there was a particular culture and identity for Deaf people,

Really we had experimented the same frustrations,it was a big relief to meet other Deaf people, and to feel the same as them.But I’ll tell you, that came a little late, I must have been 25 or 26 when I really discovered that there could be a Deaf identity. So, because we had effectively the same identity:  we were all Deaf we had had the same problems, the same obstacles, and that’s where I identified myself as a Deaf woman, but not just Deaf, a Deaf woman, feminist but not disabled. It’s really society who gives us the label of being a disabled person. I think that with time we have to make people aware, to really inform them, that in the end to be a Deaf person it’s absolutely not a disability and that we have to be considered on the same level as hearing people.

In my daily life, like I said, with my friends I feel like I’m on the same level as them, I find that’s great. It’s more on the level of hearing society, at the level of accessibility of government services, such as the Ministry of Health or Education, really that there are obstacles and we have to continue our struggles and battles, and I know that it’s long but I think it’s in the same way that other disabilities have their struggles and battles, it takes time.

There are very few adaptations that have been made, there aren’t always interpretation services available or accessible, so in Canada there’s a huge delay. And what’s more, it’s 2015! And we don’t yet have access to the services that we would have a right to . Whereas in the US they’re very very advanced in this area, and similarly, in terms of communications technology they’re a lot more advanced than Canada.

 

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Deafness and sexuality

When I was young, I never had a boyfriend, so I met my first boyfriend, would was hearing, I must have been 23 years old I think. when I was young I’ve never had a boyfriend before I think that I was a little hesitant, I was on the defensive, I felt physical unready, I had friends who had already had sexual experiences, Deaf boyfriends, who had gotten into couples, I asked them questions and we discussed, they told me a little bit of what happened and shared their experiences, and their, you know one day I met my boyfriend who was hearing, so I remember everything that my friends had told me of their experiences of being in a couple, and I asked myself if that would be any different because I was with a hearing person.

So I asked myself if sexually there would be a difference or not. It’s funny, really, my body, I felt it, hesitancies like I was on the defensive, I didn’t know too much how to do it, on a sexual level, but my boyfriend was really patient, for a whole year he was very patient with me. So one day he asked the question “but Hodan how can we make love?” “How can we have sex?” – and it’s funny but that made me like, a feeling of a loss of self-confidence but it’s true he said “we can’t talk, you can’t hear my voice” And I’d say that that developed even more hesitance and defensiveness on my side, so I finally decided to abandon all of that.

It took a certain amount of time, but finally, three years later, ya it took three years, that we didn’t see each other, and I returned to the same guy and we started dating again, and we went, I would say 6 months, he was very respectful. Myself, I understood more about sexuality as a Deaf person, I understood that everything had to go through looks, through our eyes, through the visual, that it wasn’t a question that we would make love with the lights off. I hadn’t mentioned it before because I didn’t understand what it was, but with all the experience, the understanding, and to finally tryt it, I saw a big difference. But emotionally, I had no more feelings with him, so we decided to end that relationship.

With time I realized, also, that I had much more self-confidence as a woman, with my sexuality, with my body. And my current partner, we’ve been together for 5 years, we have a little girl, and really, we are very happy. We have a normal relationship, just like hearing people, except that the only difference is that we’re Deaf.

My daughter is a CODA (Child of as Deaf Adult), that means that her two parents use sign language with her, because her parents are Deaf, but you see everything is going very well at the level of communication. I’m really happy in my relationship, I’m very happy with my daughter.

 

Between Deaf people

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So, for real, I will tell you that I prefer to be in a relationship with a Deaf man, because, at the level of understanding, and identity, we’re the same, fundamentally we’re the same. If I was with a hearing person, for sure he could probably understand some things about Deafness, but not from A to Z, probably just some of it, and he would always miss some things about Deafness that he couldn’t understand.

But , with a Deaf person, it flows, our communication is fluid. Sexually, it goes really well as well. So, I don’t want to generalize, it’s not the same for everybody, but I would say that me and my partner, on a fundamental level are the same, we’ve had similar experiences, it goes well, whereas  a hearing person would have difficulty understanding the frustrations that we’ve lived in regards to lack of accessibility and all that.

All that means that, for me, as a Deaf woman, I prefer to be with a Deaf man.

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These video have been produced by FQPN and realised by Rozen Potin. Responsible for the project: Charli Lessard and Aimee Louw. With the participation of Isabelle, Caroline and Hodan. Translation: Aimee Louw

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