My name is Jody, and I was born Deaf. I did speech therapy for 16 years. I have two deaf brothers. I had a mum who was a singer, I had a brother who was a singer, and I had a grandfather who was a pianist. Music was all around me and the only way I could access it was feeling the vibrations. My grandfather would grab me and stick me on the top of the piano so I would be able to feel as he was playing away. My mum would put my hand on her throat while she sang.
I grew up in a remote area in Queensland. It was a very, very racist, and conservative place. There weren’t a lot of people that identified as gay or lesbian. It wasn’t allowed or spoken of. My family are Aboriginal. The barriers I experienced were profound. Trying to work out which language I should be using, how I should be communicating, how did I fit with people and how did they fit with me was challenging. How do I build an identity? How do I belong? It was overwhelming. Sometimes I felt like I had all these different lives. I had my Aboriginal, white, hearing, and Deaf lives. I had my gay, regional, and single mum lives. The list goes on.
When I moved to the city, it was very, very different. It was loud. It was busy. My eyes hurt from everything that was happening in front of me. I felt frightened most of the time. But at the same time, I thought wow, everything’s new, everything’s exciting. I met other Deaf people. I met people who wore hearing aids. I realised that people that are naturally different didn’t need to adapt. They could just be different. I could then associate and feel a sense of belonging and embrace my own identities.