Deaf, Kink, Lesbian

Author: Nik Zemlak

Deaf, Kink, Lesbian – a story of living life in a hearing straight conservative world.

Nik Zemlak is a young two spirit, transmasculine person who sits down to chat – using sign language – with Sonya Moyer – an older deaf, lesbian woman he met a few years ago while volunteering at Alberta Sex Positive Education & Community Centre (ASPECC). Sonya wanted to attend a workshop the center was hosting, and they asked me to interpret because they knew I knew American Sign Language. Nik was hesitant at first, because they are not a trained interpreter, but accepted because of the desire to help make the class accessible.

This video shares Sonya’s story from her roots in Medicine Hat to college in Washington, D.C. to finding her love in Edmonton.

Nik Zemlak interviews Sonya Moyer

Sonya Moyer is a 70+ year old Deaf queer woman from Medicine Hat. At age 6 she moved to Edmonton to attend Alberta School for the Deaf where she lived in the dorms during the school year then would travel home for holidays.

She discovered she was a lesbian while attending Gallaudet College in Washington D.C. Like many queer people in the 70s and 80s, she married a man to hide her sexual identity but the marriage did not last long and she moved back to Canada… “where her roots are.”

Sonya (centre) with her brothers (top) and sisters in the late 1950’s at Christmas
Sonya Moyer

After she returned, she found the love of her life, started to come out and found out something new about herself. She was kinky. As a Deaf person… connecting to the kink and queer communities has been difficult. When she was active in queer and kink community, finding other Deaf people in those communities was rare and most of the hearing people she met did not know sign language.

After we became friends he went on to interpret more workshops for her, and she invited me out for walks and the little parties she hosted. Sonya is an incredibly sweet woman. She loves baking and giving back to her community. I wanted to share her story because he finds stories from queer elders inspiring and wanted to bring awareness to the accessibility issues present in the queer and kink communities. It is important to make space for the disabled members, like Sonya, in our communities to make sure they are able to interact and contribute in a meaningful way.

Sonya and Liz Broad on their wedding day

This interview was also really meaningful to me. As a highly introverted person it can be difficult to socialize with people. However, this interview reminded me how interesting people’s lives are when you take the time to listen. I had heard bits and pieces of Sonya’s stories before while visiting her, but this is the first time focusing on it, filling in details I never knew before.

– Nik Zemlak

If you are interested in learning more about Deaf people and American Sign Language, check out the events and classes hosted by the Alberta Cultural society of the Deaf at this link

Funding for this story made possible by the Edmonton Heritage Council and the City of Edmonton

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