Making your media accessible | Deaf Awareness Month

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. Today, this is kind of based on a comment I had on my first video for this month. I want to talk about how you should be making your content—whether that’s videos, pictures, art, etc.—as accessible to everyone as you can. It is challenging, and certainly not one-size-fits-all. I’ll be talking about accessibility for deaf people and blind people, plus that intersection, DeafBlind.

First, let’s do the obvious one: captions. This is something we deaf people have been harping on about *forever* so this should be no surprise. Obviously, caption your videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Unfortunately, Instagram does not yet have a built-in captioning tool, so that requires a different process. That’s the obvious. But I would add: caption your TikToks. Caption your Instagram Reels. Caption your Instagram Stories. Caption. Every. Thing. If you speak, caption it. And personally, I think this applies to EVERYONE, including deaf people. Yes, I know. Hearing people leave us out all the time, so why shouldn’t we leave THEM out. But you forget that there are deaf people who don’t know sign. Those who are still learning and can’t use your videos to help them learn. THAT is not fair to them. If we deaf people also refuse to do captions, why would that encourage hearing people to do captions themselves? *gives a look* Caption. Captions aren’t just giving access to deaf people, which is probably the primary reason, yes. But people who have other disabilities, English isn’t their primary language, and many other things, benefit from captions. Even native English speakers benefit from them if they need to have the sound muted, miss something that was said, or can’t understand because of mumbling, an accent, or any other sound issues. Captions benefit a much bigger segment of the population than people think.

The next thing I want to talk about is transcripts. This is basically just everything you say but typed up in a doc. THIS DOES NOT REPLACE CAPTIONS. It should be provided in addition to captions. Transcripts typically will have just what’s being said, and who’s saying it, but that’s it. You can add some info at the beginning, like a short description of the people who are in the video. Who are transcripts for? Everyone actually benefits from these too. They’re often for blind users who might not want to listen to a video, or DeafBlind users who can’t hear, wouldn’t be able to access the captions and would read instead. Sometimes, they might be able to see the video, but it’s easier for them to read the black and white text. That could be because the lighting in the video is poor, the background is busy, the shirt on the person is distracting or not solid enough to be able to see signs. There are a lot of reasons why someone would prefer a transcript over watching a video. For sighted and hearing people, we can benefit from them too! If we want to quote a specific line, or search for something we saw while watching the video, we can just use the find function instead of re-watching the video. I do that sometimes with my own videos. I don’t do *transcripts* but I do blog posts, which act as transcripts, but formatted as a post rather than a big text block, with pictures included if it’s fitting, such as my book wrap ups. That leads into the next thing.

This is more specific to blind people in general. Whenever you post pictures, they should come with image descriptions. These generally describe what’s in the image. It doesn’t have to be every little detail, but enough that people understand what’s in the picture. Generally of whatever’s the focus in the picture with broad strokes for the surroundings. I’ve been doing image descriptions on my pictures for years, it’s become habit by now. It’s not a very difficult thing to do, just one small extra step before posting something. You might sometimes see video descriptions, but those are generally used to describe broadly what a video looks like, and used in conjunction with transcripts. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that I put them directly in the caption. There’s a reason for this. Instagram does have a setting where you can add alt text to an image, which works…for very specific purposes. You’re able to access that ID only if you have a screen reader or the equivalent. Hearing blind people are able to use accessibility features on Apple, or a lot of other options that will read things out loud. DeafBlind people have more limited options, and often have only the option of a Braille screen reader. Many DeafBlind people don’t have one, because it can be really expensive, so they’re not able to access the information in the alt text. Also, from my understanding, accessibility tech isn’t always the best when it comes to Braille and converting data. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was largely because the focus is put on audio-based things. So that’s why I always put my IDs directly in the caption, and that’s why you’ll see many deaf organizations starting to do the same.

I’m just going to throw this out, even though it’s not something I do for fairly obvious reasons. Doing voiceovers and audio descriptions when possible is good. When I say voiceover, I’m specifically talking about voicing over for signing. I’d say this would be something I’d encourage organizations to do rather than individuals because it can be a lot of additional work for one person to do. Voiceovers and audio descriptions provide access in another way for those who rely on hearing or that in combination with other things. Audio descriptions are similar to image descriptions, they describe what’s happening in the video and what it looks like. I’m not going in-depth about this because it’s not my area of expertise. If this is something you need or are considering doing, Google is your bestie!

What I’ve said in this video so far is just the start. It might take time and practice to become comfortable doing all of this, but it’s worth it to make all of your content accessible to as many people as possible. It’s okay to make mistakes, at least you’ll be trying! It’s better to do that than not and end up not giving access at all. Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. That’s all for today, bye.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Fingerspelling – proper nouns and English | ASL Ponderings & Deaf Awareness Month

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. It’s been a while since I did an ASL Ponderings, so let’s do one today! I guess you could call this part three, because I have talked about fingerspelling a little bit before, and I have one video I’ve been wanting to make but I want to make sure to do proper research for that one. Today, I’m going to talk about the purpose of fingerspelling, and some myths people have been told about it. A quick disclaimer before I get into it – I am not saying I’m against fingerspelling, or that it’s bad, or anything. It is useful! I’m just giving a different perspective on this.

A lot of people like to call fingerspelling ASL, so much to the point where deaf people are used to having hearing people say oh, oh! I know ASL! Then proceed to fingerspell the ABCs. [zoom in] First, no. Second, absolutely not. In all seriousness, you can’t claim to know ASL when you only know the ABCs. That’s like saying you know Japanese, but you actually only know the hiragana, their phonetic writing system, and no actual words. Fingerspelling is also not technically sign language. It’s a way of coding English into a visual form, similar to Japanese katakana which is their system for transcribing foreign-language words or writing loan words. So really, whenever we fingerspell, we’re borrowing words from English. I think there’s nothing wrong with that, languages borrow words from others all the time. If you’re involved with the deaf community, you probably are aware that there’s been a fairly recent massive push for removing initialized signs, that’s signs that use letters rather than a non-letter handshape, and English words from ASL. People mostly of my generation have been borrowing signs from other countries, or picking up on a regional sign and spreading it outside of its original region. And I think that’s fantastic! That’s how language works. It’s a living, breathing thing. Unfortunately, and of course, there are those who are screaming that ASL is being ruined, it needs to be preserved, which is kind of ridiculous. If you look at what was considered ASL a hundred years ago, it looks different and it’s very much influenced by English, more so than today. Getting back to the point, fingerspelling is very much a code for converting spoken/written languages into a visual language for immediate communication.

With that in mind, let’s talk about what people are generally taught to do in regard to fingerspelling. In one of my previous videos, I touched on this. People are often taught to hold a finger on their wrist every time they spell a word, always. Well… That’s generally used for formal ASL, to be used on stage, doing a presentation, reporting news, or things like that. Sometimes you’d use it for emphasis in everyday conversation, but rarely. It’s really not necessary and usually not used in everyday language.

One of the biggest things that’s emphasized SO much in a lot of ASL classes, or at least what I know of in my experience, is proper nouns. Teachers often tell their students that you MUST spell all proper nouns. Before I go into that and why in my view it’s inaccurate, let’s review what proper nouns are. Generally, they’re the name of a person, a place, an organization, countries, brands, and titles of various works like books, movies, art, and so on. With that review, let’s talk. First, I have talked about this with some people so this isn’t coming from just me. I suspect this is partially a holdover from the Rochester Method. The Rochester Method was when deaf children were educated using a mixture of oral language and fingerspelling, no signing allowed. [fingerspelling] So it would basically look like this, which no thank you. [ASL] You can see why barely anyone uses it today, it’s… A lot. Anyway. Proper nouns. For some reason, ASL students are taught to spell every single proper noun. I personally don’t know a single fluent ASL and deaf signer that would prefer you to spell out proper nouns. I mean, we come up with signs for brand names all the time. We have signs for countries, states, and cities. We create sign names for people. We will sign the title of movies, books, and so on if we’re able. If it happens to have a word that doesn’t have a sign equivalent, we’ll spell it out. Or if someone asks for clarification on the exact title, sure, spell it out. It just kind of bothers me that I see so many people being told that it’s a MUST to fingerspell proper nouns, when deaf people themselves almost never follow that rule. This applies to quite a few other things that are taught in ASL classes as well, why are they still teaching things that deaf people don’t do?

I’m not sure what else to say for this video, so I’m going to end here. If anything else comes to mind, I’ll add it below this. Let me know what your thoughts are on this!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Deaf Awareness Month 2020

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome! September is here again, and that means it’s Deaf Awareness Month. This is a month where we put focus on promoting more awareness about different aspects of the deaf community. It might be general, it might be more specific about our culture, sign language, issues that impact our community, and so on. I just wanted to do a quick intro to this month, and give you a little preview of what I would *like* to do this month. I want to talk about various media created by deaf people *for* deaf people, maybe spotlight some deaf-owned businesses, and possibly teach some less-known deaf history. I also want to do an ASL Ponderings about fingerspelling, and song translations, how I feel about them. I’ll close out the month with some videos for the International Week of the Deaf, plus International Day of the Deaf. I’d love to know if you have any topics related to the deaf community that you want to know more about or just want to see me talk about. That’s all for today, I look forward to this month. Bye!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

June & July Books Wrap Up | BookTube

I am *very* aware that this is a looooong video, so I will completely understand if you skip watching it! FYI, I’ve added timecodes in the video description so you can skip to particular books if you want! 😊

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to the wrap up of books I read in both June and July. I’m going to just get right into it.

In the first week of June, we had the Queer Lit Readathon, and I read six books for that. I’ll link the wrap up for that, and the books I read are: Cyborg Detective, Bingo Love, This Is What It Feels Like, Wicked As You Wish, Running With Lions, and Winning Marriage. All of the books I read this month were black, queer, or both. It just so happened that several of my picks for the readathon were both!

After the readathon, I read only three books. In part because I wasn’t very motivated to, and in part because I was reading a *lot* of other things, such as articles, posts on Twitter and Instagram, and so on about all of the protests and such. This is still an important topic, and I will be leaving a few links of organizations you can support and resources.

The first book I read after the readathon was The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin. I was so happy when my library request came in for this, because the timing was really good! Okay. We have no choice but to love Jemisin, everything I’ve read of hers I have loved. In this book, cities have souls. Some are ancient and mythical, and some are young and boisterous like children. New York City, though, doesn’t have just one soul. She has six, and the five boroughs must work together to save the sixth, who is the representation of New York as a whole. They must save him from the Enemy, who is determined to snuff out any city that dares put its weight on the universe. Honestly, so much goes on in this story, I kind of don’t want to tell you any more than that. If you’ve ever read any of NK Jemisin’s work, you’ll most likely love this as well. It’s almost a blend of fantasy and science fiction. The boroughs are represented by people who are the most true representation of the borough they’re from. The Bronx is a queer Lenape director of an art center, Brooklyn is a former rap star become city councilwoman, Queens is an immigrant Tamil mathematician here on a visa, Manhattan is a multiracial grad student with a missing past, Staten Island is a sheltered Irish-American daughter of an abusive cop, and New York is a young, skinny, queer Black boy living on the streets. The way New York City is described in this book, both the real city and the boroughs when seen in the other dimension, is just gorgeous. This is definitely a love letter to NYC, and Jemisin says that it’s her homage to the city. I have never been to NYC, so I can’t speak to that, but I felt like I really got a feel for the city from it. This really is in your face about racism, sexism, homophobia, and fighting against that. I can’t recommend this more. I’ll leave a link to Adri’s more in-depth review of this if you want to know more about the story.

Next, I read Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. After a messy break up from her white boyfriend, 25-year-old Jamaican British Queenie is dealing with the aftermath. While working at a national newspaper, she’s also finding comfort in all the wrong places. Meeting up with men who are the worst people to affirm her self-worth, occupying her time when she really should be focusing on work. She keeps making questionable decision after decision, frustrating her friends and making it difficult for them to keep supporting her through a tough time. This book does a lot, and I’m a little mixed on it. On one hand, I enjoyed the British humor and most of her friends and their relationships. That was one of my favorite parts of the book, in how it was done and their banter. On the other, Queenie’s attitude and decisions kind of grated on me. I understand that she has a lot of mental health struggles and trauma, but I’m not sure that completely explains all of her choices. But again, the author never makes it seem like it’s a good thing. It’s very clear that she’s just dealing with her anxiety the only way she thinks she can. This book really goes to dark places, with the unprotected sex with multiple men, severe anxiety, racism from several fronts, cultural stigma of therapy, and a lot more. So I want to be clear that even though this book is often pitched as a comedy or similar to Bridget Jones which I haven’t seen, it is not. Yes, there’s moments of humor here and there, but as a whole, I would not call it a comedy. Immediately after reading, it was a 4 star because I read it very quickly in a couple of sittings. But after letting it process, I knocked off one star because unfortunately, there are quite a lot of Black woman stereotypes in this. I also felt there was a way to write this so that it touches on all of these hard topics, without relying on stereotypes, and all of the really, really poor decision making. There was a lot of kind of glancing at racism, but not really exploring it further. Anyway, I’ve said enough as a white person. I looked at Goodreads reviews, specifically those from Black women, and some are not here for it. But there are also some who loved it, and really related to it. So take that how you will. Would I recommend this? Maybe. Just go into this keeping what I said in mind.

The last book in June I read was How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. He talks about the concept of antiracism and how he defines it, asking us to think about what an antiracist society would look like, what our role would be in it. Kendi brings together history, ethics, law, and science along with his personal journey as a Black man awakening to antiracism. I…have really mixed feelings about this book. I appreciate what Kendi is trying to do, and I did learn quite a bit of history from this that I didn’t know about. Kendi argues that you are either racist or antiracist – there’s no real in-between, if you’re passively non-racist, you perpetuate racism by allowing it to continue. He applies this concept to several things throughout the book. However. This book is clearly written for white people. Which is kind of the point, but there it is. Some of the things he discusses are things that have already been talked about and already have terms for them, but he coins his own words. He says that Black people can be racist, which… No, there’s a different term for that. Kendi barely touches on queerness, but when he does, he uses Black queer women for his own learning, reflection on his own “racist,” homophobic, and sexist behavior. He uses stereotypes about Black women, reinforcing those negative stereotypes. I felt queasy reading those parts of the book, and couldn’t explain why until I saw a Twitter thread talking about the harms enabled by this book—which I used just now—and I strongly recommend you read the thread. I also couldn’t figure out what this book was trying to be – a memoir, self-help, textbook, storytelling? All of that? *shrugs* I think I’m going to just end here, and let you decide if you want to read this for yourself.

Now for the July books! First up is an ARC that’s now out, Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall. Luc O’Donnell is semi-famous—not by choice. Both of his parents are former rock stars, his father hasn’t been in his life at all since he was little. Luc has been appearing in tabloids and the such, which isn’t much of an issue… Until donors to the charity he works at start to pull out their money because of his “gay lifestyle,” and Luc has to fix his image or lose his job. Desperate, he turns to his friends and ends up making a decision he doesn’t particularly like. He goes on a date with Oliver Blackwood, who is the perfect person to buff Luc’s image. They don’t like each other, but agree to fake date for a while since they both need one for a big event. Of course, the line between fake and real starts to blur, and there’s FEELINGS! I LOVED THIS! I’ve seen quite a few people compare this to Red, White & Royal Blue, and I can see why, but I feel like they’re also completely different. To start, in BM only one of them is famous, and semi-famous at that, while in RWRB, they’re both world-famous. (Note: This is something I didn’t say in the video, but wanted to include here – To use Hank Green’s tiers of fame, Luc is tier 2, Notoriety, and Oliver isn’t even in the tiers. For both of the boys in RWRB, they’re tier 4, True Fame.) Also, I wonder if people are making this connection a lot because this is set in England? Moving on, I just said it’s set in England. With that, this book has a TON of British humor, and I laughed and smiled a lot while reading this! I actually read this in one sitting, and was up until around 4AM to finish it, I was enjoying it that much. Now, I don’t want to mislead you and make you think this is all sappy and happy, because it’s not. That’s another difference between this and RWRB. Both of the men in BM have a lot of emotional baggage, and Luc is pretty messed up for various reasons. He constantly puts his foot in his mouth, is a little self-destructive, and very snarky as a defense mechanism. Buuuuut! This book is SO good with all of the layers, having growth for both of them, showing them learning how to work through things rather than just giving up. Luc learns how to manage his destructive behaviors, and becomes a better person for it while still acknowledging he’ll probably still mess up. I really appreciated how fleshed out the supporting characters were. I could see their personalities, and they didn’t feel like they were filler just for Luc and Oliver to exist. There are several queer supporting characters, and one of them is a Muslim woman. Last thing, the pacing. Mostly, it’s good! But sometimes it felt like it was dragging on sliiiightly too long, a few paragraphs weren’t really necessary, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending. It’s very open-ended, so if that bothers you, well. I don’t know what to tell you. Overall, I seriously *loved* this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a queer fake-to-love dating trope, especially because this one has its own little twist on it.

Another ARC that released at the end of June, Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory. Olivia Monroe just moved to LA to start her own law firm with a good friend of hers, and anything but work is far from her mind, especially dating. While in transition at a hotel, she strikes up a conversation with a gorgeous man at the hotel’s bar, and they flirt the whole night. Only after separating for the night does she discover that the man is none other than junior senator of California, Max Powell. A while later, she gets a cake delivered to her law office, and while she doesn’t really want to date a politician, she can’t just outright say no to that. They go on a few dates, keeping everything secret due to Max’s high-profile job. Olivia is happy to learn that Max is not at all like the privileged white politician she imagined him to be. They find their rhythm and after a while, they agree to go public. They try to prepare for the spotlight that comes with it, but Olivia gets a lot of not quite desirable attention. She has to decide if it’s worth it for Max, or if she can’t handle the heat. This is the second Guillory book I’ve read, the first being The Wedding Date. They’re all interconnected, but can stand alone, which I appreciate. The characters are well-developed, and I really appreciate that Guillory seems to have a habit of writing them like real adults that communicate their feelings and work at relationships. The romances don’t feel like they’re some fantasy ideal, where everything is perfect and nothing is hard. Especially in this one, they have to have these conversations due to Max’s job. I liked that Olivia is very much her own person with ideas and goals, and doesn’t give that up just to go after Max. I would’ve loved to see more of her side though, looking at when the book talks about their jobs. It was a little more detailed on Max’s side, and I would have liked to see more of the clients and jobs that Olivia takes on. These characters are so easy to like, and you’ll speed through this, no problem. If it wasn’t clear, Olivia is Black and I did mention that Max is white. They have some conversations about race and how that can play into their interactions, but I felt like it came up only for causing problems. The climax or the breaking point was a little sudden, there wasn’t any–or maybe enough–foreshadowing or little things being built in to have that point make sense. It would’ve been good to see a bit more of that woven in the story. Sometimes, the domestic side of things got a little repetitive, and I didn’t feel that was necessary to have. Since they’re seeing each other so little, I would’ve liked to see more variety in what they did while together. But that was pretty minor, and I very much enjoyed this. Good warning: there is so. much. food. Beautiful and plentiful descriptions of food is a thing in the Guillory books that I’ve read, so be aware of that! All in all, I enjoyed this and would recommend it if you’ve read any of her other books and liked them. Even if you haven’t, if you like romance that isn’t completely unrealistic, this is a good one.

Then I finally finished a book I intended to finish for a video, but that got dropped so I took my time. The book is Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell. That is a very long subtitle! If you recall, I read another book about the fight for equal marriage in June, Winning Marriage by Marc Solomon. These two books are about the same thing, but while Winning Marriage focuses on the political aspect and nation-wide, Love Wins focuses more on the people who were involved in the court cases, starting with Jim Obergefell and John Arthur who were the plaintiffs in one of the most important equal rights cases in US history. I think that sums up the book fairly well, because there’s so many details I could cover but then I’d be going on forever! I did really enjoy this much more personal look at the fight, and it’s very emotional at times. Again, if you like history, you’ll enjoy this. Just know that this is a narrative nonfiction, which I wasn’t expecting when I opened this, but it did the job.

Next was a library hold I’d had for a while, The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This has strong introvert vibes! Forty-year-old Linus Baker works at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth as a Case Worker, making sure the children in the government orphanages are doing well and are taken care of properly. One day, he’s summoned by Extremely Upper Management and sent to Marsyas Island, where six children considered to be very dangerous live. He’s also tasked with checking on their caretaker, Arthur Parnassus, who is very enigmatic and charming. His job is to decide if this orphanage is a safe place or if these children will burn down the world. I’m not giving a lot of detail, because that’s part of the magic of this book. I LOVED this. This also crushed me. It’s a very fluffy and intense book about found family in unexpected places. It starts out seemingly dull and slow, but that’s exactly the point. Keep reading, and it will become very vivid, full of magic and love. The kind of love families have, queer love, love for all who are different. This was a library ebook, but I might just have to buy a hard copy for myself. I mean, that cover is gorgeous! And this just gave me all the feels.

A NetGalley ARC is next, How to They/Them: A Visual Guide to Nonbinary Pronouns and the World of Gender Fluidity by Stuart Getty. It gives an easy to follow guide for using they/them pronouns, like it says in the title. This book does that, but it also talks about gender expression, the freedom to identify how you want, all along with funny visuals. I want to be clear on that part, this is not a graphic novel. Images are accompanied with blocks of text. (Similar to Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele.) Getty is genderqueer and uses they/them personally. My initial rating was a three out of five stars for a few reasons, but I later changed it to a four. One was just personal, I didn’t really learn anything but then after thinking about it, I realized that’s not a fair rating because this is a subject I know well. Obviously, since I use they pronouns, so I already have this knowledge. Another was that when I finished, I was a little frustrated and disappointed because the formatting is HORRIBLE. I understand that this is an ARC, so things aren’t final yet. It’s also an ebook, and that can sometimes contribute to formatting problems, especially when there are a lot of images throughout the text. I could also tell some of the unusual formatting was intentional, which is fine! I just struggled to separate what was intentional and what wasn’t, and it was very frustrating to follow the text sometimes. I’m sure the final version will look better than the copy I read, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is wanting to understand they/them pronouns more. I think I might be ordering a copy of the final edition so I can see for myself, and so I can share with people. While we’re still on this book, I’m going to also recommend A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson. That one is fully graphic, no blocks of text. Okay, moving on now!

The next book I read was Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. Felix Love just wants to be loved and love, and doesn’t understand why it seems so easy for everyone else. He worries that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and trans—to ever truly be happy. Felix is going to a summer program for artists, focusing in acrylics. One day, when he walks into school, he’s confronted with a gallery of pictures of him before transition along with his deadname. (Note: The deadname is never once said in this book.) Shortly after, he starts getting transphobic messages from an anonymous Instagram account. Felix quickly suspects it’s a specific person, and comes up with a plan for revenge. It doesn’t go quite the way he expected, but he also starts a journey of self-discovery that redefines how he sees himself. This is a very layered story touching on identity, love, confronting transphobia and bullying. I have to admit, I was very nervous going into this. I know there’s a lot of rave reviews and a lot of hype around this book. I am SO relieved that it’s all true. I absolutely loved all the Black queer magic that Kacen got into this book! I was nervous, because I’ve read another book of theirs that was very hyped and I ended up being VERY disappointed by it for multiple reasons. That book is This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story, which I plan to make a more in-depth review about. Hopefully soon, but we’ll see. I’m just really happy that Felix turned out to be an amazing book, and I know that Jesse from Bowties and Books LOVED this. I can’t recall which video they talked about it in, but if I figure it out, I’ll link it. You should check them out regardless, they’re pretty great! And they caption!

The final book I read in July is Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon. Jordan Collins has a passion for romance novels, and founded the Meet Cute Club, which exclusively reads romance. He worries about the club having to end, with its members slowly leaving. He also doesn’t want to deal with the new local bookstore employee, who made fun of him for reading things meant for grandmas, showing up and asking to join the club. But Jordan realizes that even if Rex Bailey is very handsome and obnoxious, he can’t say no to new members if he wants the club to survive. Jordan discovers that Rex might not actually be all that bad as they work together to save the club. I really, really enjoyed this! Sure, it’s very cheesy at times, but it also will make you feel things. It’s just a wonderful fluffy romance centered around books, what more could you want? I do wish that it was a little longer, it felt like it wrapped up too quickly. And it had a really interesting way of changing up point of view in the middle of chapters, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I was thrown the first time it happened, but after that it wasn’t too bad, because I was more aware and paying attention for the changes. I would have loved to see more interactions between Jordan and Rex outside of the club, just more of them talking. But honestly? I would absolutely recommend this for anyone who wants to read a queer romance between two book loving nerds.

At last. I am finished! If you watched all the way to the end, thank you! I hope you enjoyed this wrap up, and hopefully the next one won’t be as long. Bye!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

YouTube and why I’m here

(sigh) Let’s do this.

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome back. I was going to have a book wrap up video be the next one I uploaded, but a few things happened that made me decide to make this first. I was in part inspired by one of Hallease’s videos, Why I’m REALLY on YouTube. But mostly, I decided I’d go over why I’m on YouTube for those who may be new or may not know.

This channel started back in 2014, six years almost to the day as of this upload. I started it because I was watching quite a bit of YouTube, but knew of barely any deaf YouTubers other than Rikki Poynter. A huge lack of representation for deaf people, AND at the time, there were so few Deaf YouTubers who signed only. Now, there are more, but still not enough in my opinion. I had the skills to do it, so I thought, why not? It started out as a purely vlogging, “day in the life of” type of channel. I also used it as a sort of creative outlet while I was in college, because it was something that I could do and had everything that I needed. It didn’t take long for me to start taking it in a more educational direction, because I personally love learning and dropping random facts for people. At first, it was just about the deaf community and a bit of ASL. I had zero interest—and is still true today—in teaching ASL, like a list of words or phrases (note: apart from regional signs and idioms, that’s different). I wanted to do what was less common, which is why I started my ASL Ponderings series. That’s where I talk about things that I’ve noticed interpreting students tend to not know or struggle a bit with, or things that I personally wonder why we do in the Deaf community. It’s a pretty broad series, but basically, anything that I felt like isn’t talked about much.

When I decided to be public about my sexuality, and later on my gender, I shifted to have a lot more educational content about the queer community. In part because I was learning a lot that I knew a lot of other people wouldn’t know. But a major part of that was because there is SO little in the way of ASL resources about the queer community. So I wanted to and still want to improve that. Also, representation comes into this again. Many of the other Deaf YouTubers I’ve seen are straight, white, and/or cis. So while I’d be adding another white face, I’d be adding representation for deaf queer people. I would LOVE to see more BIPOC Deaf YouTubers across the whole spectrum!

Even with all of that, this is still a creative outlet for me. While I make a little bit of money from this, this is not my job. I do this mostly for fun. That’s why I have no upload schedule, apart from a benefit for some of my Patrons. I’m saying this because while some people probably mean well, I have gotten a few messages or comments recently that are… Hmm. One was telling me I should do less book content, because they were here for the deaf stuff. That came after I just happened to be posting a lot of book-related videos, it was around the time of the Queer Lit Readathon. I never said that this channel would only be This Stuff and nothing else. I will make what I want, and if you don’t want to watch particular content, that’s fine. Watch just what you want. That’s what y’all do anyway right? Then I recently got a message through Instagram. I don’t always reply and I didn’t in this case, but it was someone asking when I’d be doing more YouTube videos. First, it’s impossible to tell tone through text only, but I want to caution people against doing this kind of thing. It can seem like you’re demanding more from a creator, when you have no idea what’s going on behind the screen. They could be experiencing burnout, they could just be needing a break—like I mentioned in my previous video—they could be busy with their own lives and things that you don’t see online. Sure, I’m posting on Instagram. But I’ll always be more active there than I am on here, because that takes almost no time at all while YouTube tends to take more work. Again, this is not my full-time job. And well, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and a huge cultural shift. Nothing is going to be normal. I don’t want things to go back to our old normal.

I realize that it might sound like I don’t care about y’all. That’s not true, I do really appreciate you and the fact that you take time out of your day to watch a video of mine. When I upload. (laughs) I am really grateful for all my Patrons who continue to support me monthly, and those who sometimes send me a coffee on Ko-fi. I’m glad I’m able to share my nerdy self with you. (sigh) It just rubs me the wrong way when people try to tell me what to do. Suggestions are welcome of course, but when it’s phrased more like a demand or a must-do, that’s not okay to me.

Okay, I’m done now. Stepping off my soapbox, thanks for watching if you went all the way to the end. I’ll hopefully see you again soon.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

I’m still around! | Vlog

Hello! I’m Rogan and welcome back. I know. It’s been a time. I will explain a little more later, but right now, I need to go do errands, and drive to (stumbles in spelling) Marysville to meet someone for giving them their macarons. So. You’re coming with me.

[Montage of grabbing keys, driving, dropping off boxes at the post office, highway, green-lined roads, flopping back on a bed.]

I hope you enjoyed that little trip out. I know I haven’t posted anything for almost a month. It’s been a time. I decided I needed a break for several reasons. First, June was Pride month, and I posted a lot. And there was a lot going on in that month. So I just needed to breathe a little bit (in regard to doing YouTube).

Another reason why I took a break from making videos for a while is because it’s my birthday month. So I just wanted to enjoy myself, relax a little bit. My birthday already happened, I’m 27 now. It’s a little bit weird having a birthday during a pandemic, because… You know, you can’t really get together to celebrate. I’m one of those people who don’t really make a big deal out of their birthday. My family doesn’t really… We do care yes, but it’s not like we have to get together and celebrate big, have piles of food. That’s not me. So this year, I actually kind of forgot about my birthday until like, a week before. And I was like, oh, right, my birthday is soon. Eh. I ended up not really doing anything except for going to get food from a place with my parents, and that’s it really.

I also had a couple of other things that took up a lot of my time that aren’t really visible to the internet.

One of that is I made a lot of macarons recently. It’s a lot. I think almost three…weeks. About three weeks straight of making macarons. I used so many eggs. Oh my god. I’m really thankful for the Costco bulk eggs. That really helped me! But yeah, I was making a bunch and shipping them to friends and family that were buying them. So, thank you! It’s kind of a side thing, because I can’t work right now so this is a good way to make a little bit of money. But also, I got so many responses that I decided that I would donate part of that to The Okra Project. The Okra Project is an organization that connects Black trans people that may not have full access to resources with Black trans chefs that go to their homes to (cook) them homemade meals. That’s a really great project. I’ve donated to them in the past, so I thought, why not again? I’m making food, selling it, that money going to support more food.

While all of that was going on, I was also doing the online portion for an interpreting program I’m in. It’s called the DeafBlind Interpreting Institute. I have two portions, one online and one in-person. Obviously, the in-person is not happening now, because you know, pandemic. The online portion is still going forward. We’re…about halfway done with the weekly classes, I believe now. Yes, halfway. So that takes time. I’m enjoying it! It’s been a great experience, I’m really liking it. My cohort, really great people in my cohort. I’m really excited for when we can be together in person. Because that’s the challenge. DeafBlind interpreting requires touch. And discussing through videos, through typing… It doesn’t really work. It’s an interesting challenge, but I’m really enjoying it. A lot of great discussions in that cohort so far. So I’m really excited for this program.

This video is more of just saying hi, yes. I’m still around. I’m…I plan–hope to get back into making videos regularly. Well, more often than once a month. From here on, I don’t really have any plans for what I want to do. No timeline, really. So if you have any ideas, thoughts, whatever… That you want to see me make a video about, I can see what I can make happen. And yeah, I think that’s it for today. Thanks for watching. Like, subscribe, comment…Whatever. Bye!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Not the End | Pride Project

Hello I’m Rogan and welcome. Today is the last video of the Pride Project, but it definitely isn’t the end of Pride! It sure won’t be the last time I make queer videos. To close out the month, I just wanted to talk about some recent queer media I’ve enjoyed this month.

Love, Victor released on June 17th and it’s a spin off from Love, Simon. This is in TV format, 10 episodes long with thirty mins of runtime each. Right now, we don’t know yet if there will be another season, but I hope there is! Victor and his family recently moved to Creekwood, where Simon lived. Victor’s unsure about his sexuality, so he reaches out to Simon, who is off in NYC for college. They start up a conversation and it runs throughout the show, as Victor navigates his new life, his confusing feelings, family strife and stress, and getting through high school. As any good high school show, there’s drama and twists. I watched this with a friend, and we kept yelling that Victor is bi because reasons. We’re a little biased of course, since we’re both bi, but Victor eventually said he’s gay. Which is fine! There certainly aren’t enough representations of queer people of color, especially in a lead role. My friend said this, and I agree—paraphrasing here: “I think Victor is bi, because he went through that confusion with Mia, liking her and wanting to make it work. He eventually says he’s gay, but I think it could be because Victor’s in high school, and probably still sees a lot of things as black and white. I hope that gets explored some in the future.” We both really liked how the show was set up, including the confusion around sexuality and showing that it isn’t as stark as most people think it is. This also can resonate with a lot of people since Victor is “…being a fixer…and how people don’t want to make mistakes even if it’s with an identity thing, they don’t want to do the wrong thing and hurt people.” Another thing my friend said: “The way they ended it also makes me hope that they’re setting up the second season to kind of be a navigation journey for himself but also for his family because obviously as we’ve seen, some of his family members aren’t okay with it and that is honestly life for many people, I hope they show a season about a family going through this together and not just Victor dealing with it by himself.” I can’t recommend this more, go watch it if you have Hulu, or even do a trial just for this show, it’s worth it.

Another thing I watched that was also released this month was Disclosure, a documentary that takes a look at Hollywood’s depiction of trans people and the impact of this on American culture. Every single person interviewed in this is trans, and they talk about their reactions and resistance to some of Hollywood’s moments. This was an amazing look at so much media across the years, and I learned a lot about some trans representation that I wasn’t aware of—mostly because it was very bad, and people don’t want to talk about it—but it’s important to know where we’ve come from so we can see where we need to go. This is a Netflix original documentary, so you can watch it there. If you’re at all interested in history, trans representation in anything, this is a must watch.

Of course, I couldn’t not watch the newest season of Queer Eye! Just as good as all of the previous seasons, and it all happens in Philadelphia. I can’t watch a season without wanting at least some of the Fab 5’s clothes, or some of the heroes’! If you enjoy this show, you’ll love this season.

I want to quickly mention a couple of animated shows, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. The first has some very clear queer representation throughout, with two of the princesses being married, and Bow has two dads. Kipo recently released their second season, and it makes very clear that there are two boys interested in each other. One is black and one of the main support characters, and the other is a POC I think. I’m just thrilled that more and more shows aimed to children are including more queer characters. Now can we get more main characters who are QTBIPOC? (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)

Before I end this video, I want to say: Pride is for everyone, and I mean everyone, queer. Regardless of if you’re openly and loudly queer, or if you’re still in the closet for whatever reason, or if you don’t plan to ever be out because you already have your lifelong partner. If you identify as queer, you are queer period. Those people who try to tell you that you don’t count, you’re not really queer, your identity is really this or that? Ignore them. They likely don’t know you nearly as well as you know yourself. Whatever your situation—you are a valid queer person.

A couple last things before you go. The shirt I’m wearing is a design by Inka’s Screen Printing, a deaf queer artist. It was originally a limited run in 2018, but good news! Inka’s recently announced that it will permanently be in their store now, and you know me. Here’s the link! The other thing I want to remind you about—there are also links to several lists for black queer and trans organizations at the end of this post. These organizations are doing great work, and I want to see them be able to continue doing it and expand the scale of the work they’re doing. Please donate to at least one, and please don’t just pick the first one you see. Actually look and donate to one that’s meaningful to you. That’s all for today. Happy Pride month and forever!

Black queer and trans organizations to support

If you want to support me in addition to those above, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Disability & Pride | Pride Project

Let’s talk about Pride and disability. 

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. There are links in the description for several black and queer trans organizations. Today, I’m going to be replying to a comment I got on a video asking about pride parades/festivals and what accessibility is like at them. First, I’ve been to only a few prides, two in Seattle and one in Portland. So my personal experience is limited, but I’ll talk about what know from other people who have talked about this. I also will link a pretty in-depth article about accessibility and pride.

The ones I’ve been to do provide interpreters but you have to be at very specific places to be able to see them, and those areas are usually crowded and difficult to get into if you don’t arrive early. They’re also not always accessible for deaf people who also use wheelchairs because they can’t see over people’s heads. There are sometimes designated spaces for wheelchair users, but they’re not the easiest to get to and that doesn’t even mention all of the other difficulties that wheelchair users face at Pride.

I don’t use a wheelchair myself, but I know of some the problems they face. Some are as simple as cracked and uneven sidewalks that weren’t repaired when they should have been. Other issues arise when the route is set where the whole thing isn’t fully accessible for them. There are still portions in some cities or towns that don’t have ramps on curb corners, or the incline is too steep to comfortably use. People have no awareness of wheelchair users, people’ll block their way, not let them move up to the front so they can see, lean on their chairs, and generally act like they’re not even there.

It’s a whole other set of problems when you look at Pride parties or events after the parade. There generally aren’t any spaces that are quieter or more casual for people who easily get overstimulated such as autistic people. Many smaller events not connected to the big Pride event aren’t interpreted unless people reach out and request it. These smaller events are often in bars or clubs, spaces that usually aren’t ADA accessible. This is especially true in cities with older buildings that were there before 1990, because they’re not required to comply with the ADA.

I know there are many queer disabled people who just opt out of going to Pride events, because it’s not worth the energy to try and go. The few times I’ve gone, I enjoyed but it was either because I was with friends or went by myself, but had no expectations of understanding anything that was being said. I tend to still celebrate Pride, but not by going to the parade or Pride specific events unless I know they’re accessible. My queer friends and I will just get together at some place where we’re comfortable and celebrate that way.

To finish the video, I want to remind you that Pride started as a riot, continued as a march to honor that riot and the start of the bigger fight for rights. It was started by queer and trans black women. This has to be remembered with Pride often being whitewashed. When you can, support queer and trans organizations, especially those operated by BIPOC communities. I have links below to a list, be sure to check them out. And to close out, if you are disabled and queer, have you been to Pride? If yes, what was your experience? If not, if you feel comfortable with sharing, what’s your reason for not going?

Black queer and trans organizations to support

If you want to support me in addition to those above, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Alcohol-Free Queer Spaces | Pride Project

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. At the end of this post, I will be leaving the same three Instagram links to black queer and trans organizations as I did in the last video, please check them out and support a few of them if you can. If you can’t, at least share them.

As you know from the title, I want to talk about alcohol-free queer spaces, also called sober spaces. This can be a range of things, but at the core, it means a space where alcohol isn’t present. Here, I’m talking more about social spaces. Of course, there are businesses that don’t serve alcohol, but they’re not places where you can go in and just hang out. When you ask around for where you can go to find other queer and trans people to meet, the usual immediate answer will be some kind of bar, and tends to cater toward cis gay men. That isn’t ideal for a lot of people – those who don’t feel comfortable in a gay male-dominated environment, those who are sober or in recovery, those who simply don’t like the overstimulating environment of a bar, those who aren’t of legal age, those who just don’t want to drink.

Gay bars have long been important to the queer community, as a space for socializing, organizing, protesting. The problem is that this kind of place isn’t ideal for a lot of people, especially in a community that has increased risk of addiction and substance abuse issues. There are a lot of options, but not nearly enough in my opinion. There’s bookstores like I mentioned in a previous post, but they’re not always places you can just roll up to and hang out in without buying anything. There are LGBTQ+ centers, but they’re not always comfortable places or conducive to socializing.

I’ll be linking an article from them, the media/news company, that talks about this and lists several options for sober queer spaces all over the country. One of the quotes I want to say here is from Bauman, the co-founder of Cuties, a coffeeshop in Los Angeles.

“You don’t have to be sober to want sober spaces… The more spaces we have that are not centered around an activity, that you don’t have to give a reason for being there, that’s a revolutionary thing.”

Virginia Bauman

I absolutely agree with this statement, and this was a big reason why I founded the Deaf Queer Social in Seattle. Obviously, it’s on hold now because of the pandemic. When I founded it, from the start I knew I did *not* want to host it at bars or any spaces that have alcohol as a main focus. I wanted it to be an accessible space, in more ways than one. I wanted to make sure all ages were able to attend, families could bring their children, the older generation could feel comfortable there where they’d feel out of place in a bar or club. Bars or clubs tend to be very dark or dim spaces, which is an accessibility issue for Deaf and DeafBlind people. I wanted to make sure that it would be affordable, bars and nightclubs can get expensive very fast. So far, all of the locations I’ve hosted the Deaf Queer Social at have been coffee places open until 8 or 10pm. When we are able to gather again, I plan to have some meet-ups at parks or outdoor spaces, or do other social activities that are cheap or free. I also host it a little earlier in the day than many other social events, like Deaf Night Out. DNO tends to start at 6 or 7pm, but people tend to not show up until 8pm or later. With DQS, I start it at 5pm, end at 8pm, and it’s been on Friday evenings. This way, people can easily choose to go home and relax or go to other, later events.

Going back to sober queer spaces in general, we need more spaces to just be. Queer spaces that aren’t nightlife venues often have a harder time sustaining their business, compared to nightlife venues. Bars do have a big role, and I think they are important to have. I just would like to see more options that don’t involve alcohol.

That is a good place to stop. Please let me know what your thoughts are, and if you know of any sober queer spaces in your area! This can be an event, gathering, or something else, it doesn’t have to be a physical location. 

If you want to support me, there are links below. But if you do, please also support black businesses and organizations. Thank you to my current Patrons! Subscribe for more, follow my socials for updates. Thanks for reading, see you soon.

Black queer and trans organizations to support

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.