DEAF IDENTITY: A blog with Luke Christian

Signature recently reached out to Luke Christian, founder of DEAF IDENTITY, a clothing brand that aims to raise deaf awareness. To find out more about Luke, carry on reading for more.

  1. Hi Luke, can you please tell our readers a bit more about yourself?

My name is Luke Christian, I was born deaf, and it was genetic within my family, going back at least 6 generations, so the deaf gene is very strong within my family tree. I am based near Leeds in Yorkshire, and I own and run DEAF IDENTITY, where I mix my love of fashion with my passion for raising deaf awareness through clothing and accessories.

  1. When was Deaf Identity founded and how did the idea come about?

I worked in retail for 7 years and the company went under a big restructure, and I was offered less hours or redundancy. I thought now was my chance to leave so I left in May 2019 and for Deaf Awareness Week 2019, my mum said she wished she could wear something to empower deaf people during DA Week and something inside me clicked. I spent June, July, and August 2019 in Leeds library, meeting new people, going to business classes, seminars and then launched DEAF IDENTITY in September 2019. It was only supposed to be a ‘side’ job but took over my life and here I am 4 years later.

  1. Did you face any barriers while growing up?

Growing up, my sister and I were brought up as ‘oral’ as my other family members were bullied and teased for being deaf when they were younger so didn’t want me and my sister to experience the same. I went to a mainstream school from primary through to mid-year 9 but I felt isolated and excluded and as though I didn’t belong anywhere as I was the only deaf pupil in the whole school. I then went to Mary Hare in Newbury (5 hours away) and boarded every 3 weeks but again, was made to feel isolated and excluded because I didn’t know any Sign Language and was made to feel I wasn’t ‘deaf enough’. Due to these experiences, I now feel empowered to show everyone there is no right or wrong way of being deaf. It’s how you identify as a deaf person, and I believe that being deaf sits on a spectrum and we should be inclusive of all deaf people however they wish to communicate. We are stronger together.

  1. Can you explain to us your experiences of being a deaf gay man?

Being deaf means I’m already within a minority but being gay as well as deaf means I am in a minority within a minority, so it’s been quite challenging and difficult when it comes to dating/relationships. I have been blocked straight away on gay dating apps when they have found out that I’m deaf because sadly there are some who feel whatever type of disability you have, it is not worth getting to know so maybe out of fear or prejudice, they block us straight away, so they don’t have to ‘deal with us. For me though, I never let it get me down and if anything, I thank them as they have done me a favour because they have shown me the type of person they are and why on earth would I want to date them!? This is why I feel passionate in speaking out on LGBTQ+ issues as a deaf man in the hope to inspire other deaf LGBTQ+ people to feel safe and that it’s okay to be who you are. There are others out there who can identify and relate to you.

  1. Why do you think raising deaf awareness is so important?

Raising deaf awareness is so important because it’s all about sharing your own story and with the power of social media, anybody can do it. It’s about making others feel included and as though they belong and for me growing up, I never had anyone I felt that I could look up to or relate to so often I felt quite alone. Ultimately, I want to use my social media platforms to speak out and raise deaf awareness as that’s all that matters to me.

  1. In your career, what has been your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement was the launch night of DEAF IDENTITY on September 27th, 2019. I have had quite a lot of success in 4 years off the back of DEAF IDENTITY, but nothing compares to the love and support that I felt when I first launched the brand and the amount of emails I received too. The support has been truly magical!

  1. Finally, do you have any future goals that you are aspiring to achieve?

I have lots of goals that I would like to achieve but I live by the quote, ‘Do something, then talk about it’. So, for now, I will have to keep quiet and hopefully you will see all my goals come to life soon.

Thank you to Luke for sharing his story, it has been great to learn more about the individual behind DEAF IDENTITY.

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