Watch: Deaf gay man shares his journey to find acceptance

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A deaf man has shared his story of learning to embrace his identity, to encourage others to come forward.

Richard Mesich, from Portage, Indiana, shared his story via American Sign Language for LGBTQ video project I’m From Driftwood. (Note: If you don’t understand ASL, hit the subtitles button while the video is playing)

Mr Mesich explained how he “felt like the only Deaf Gay in the world” after coming out – and struggled to find a place where he could fit in.

He explained how he came out to his mother over instant messanger, saying: “Before my 21st birthday, I was talking to my mum on AOL instant messenger. We were talking and my mum asked me, ‘Are you gay? Are you interested in boys?’

“I was thinking and realized it is time for me to open up, so I told my mom, ‘Yes, I am gay.’

“She said, ‘Okay, that’s good I am happy to hear that from you. I knew you were gay since you were a little kid’.

He continued: “Years later, after college, I started dating. I dated a few guys on and off. It was good and enjoyable.

“I met this one person and he was hearing. We went out for dinner, and we could communicate a little but sometimes it’s hard with a hearing person. Mostly I would text on my phone to communicate.

“It was a very nice time, as he was very patient and understanding. But I realized that being deaf and gay can be difficult with gay hearing people that I had dated.

“Sometimes they don’t understand about deaf culture or know about deaf culture. Also they don’t know that sign language is my first language. Some of them understood, but some of them didn’t fit in with deaf culture.

“Comparing high school to where I am now, I used to feel lost and isolated. I didn’t know who I was.

“Now I feel confident, happy and know who I am. I’m comfortable with hearing and deaf people, it doesn’t matter to me.

“Now I know who I am but I am not in a rush to look for love. All that matters are my family and friends who I enjoy being with.

“Whoever is out there will be very supportive and love who I am. I want it to be something that lasts.”

He added: “That’s the reason why I want to tell my story. If someone out there is deaf and gay, I want them to know that there are other people who are deaf and gay.

“I know some people feel lost and isolated because they think there aren’t many deaf gay people out there, but it’s not true.

“The truth is, there are a lot of people who are deaf and gay out there. You just need to find the right time to meet people. It will make you feel more confident.”

I’m From Driftwood is a community project that aims to help people learn more about the LGBTQ community, through the power of storytelling.