A Minority within a Minority

Interview with Xiaolong  

INTERSECTIONALITY : the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups

    Hello!  I’m Xiaolong, from Shanxi province. I’m Deaf. I can speak and I know sign language. I often participate in daily public welfare activities and voluntary work to provide services for Deaf people. I am also engaged in sign language translation.

    I have been working in graphic design and UI design for three or four years,  half a year in my hometown and three and half a year in Shanghai. 

    I communicate with my parents in Shanxi dialect or Putonghua, because basically I can normally communicate with hearing people when I am working.

    At first, I never knew about homosexuality and I never participated in any relevant activities. After, I got information and news about homosexuality from the internet. I found the  QQ group named “Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays” (PFLAG) and I joined them. But I didn’t pay much attention to it, because I was focused on studying and designing during my college time.

    However, 6 months after graduating, I got a job in Shanghai. In this time I started to pay attention to PFLAG. I got to know more about them and I really wanted to be a volunteer, so I asked people in the QQ group, and they told me that there was a branch in Shanghai.

    I successfully applied as a volunteer and I participated in activities. I learned many things and made many new friends doing those activities. Actually, I don’t think there’s any difference between heterosexual and homosexual people. Everyone has the right to love.

    I still remember the day when I was a volunteer in PFLAG Shanghai I was surprised to find that most parents had accepted their children’s sexual orientation. At that time, many of the activities attracted a lot of middle-aged Deaf people. But those activities were not designed for Deaf people. Because of a lack of support from hearing people, the needs of Deaf and gay people cannot be satisfied, which brings us a series of confusion and problems.

When it comes to portraying people from a marginalized group, we tend to overlook the diversity of people within that group. Not all deaf people experience similar problems or discrimination. Understanding intersectionality means understanding that people who belong to a “minority within a minority” experience a different form of discrimination and a different set of problems within our society. 

  There are some Deaf people who do not understand gay people well, because they don’t have a good understanding of homosexuality. Some gay people don’t come out, because they are afraid of losing face, or because China doesn’t support homosexual marriage at the moment. They don’t tell their parents or friends what they really are, they just pretend like nothing is going on.

  On the one hand, some Deaf people are discriminated against or misunderstood by other people. On the other hand , if you are Deaf, you cannot get information as quickly as hearing people, so you know less than them. But I really hope I can help my Deaf friends to get basic knowledge about homosexuality to deal with their problems. In addition, I think we can communicate with hearing people more often to make homosexuality more visible, and I hope that hearing people can learn some sign language so that it will be easier for us to communicate  with them.