Faces Behind the Screen: Mark McGuire
Mark McGuire is a Deaf nomad who’s been moving from place to place for 25 years. Mark has been sharing his experience of exploring the world, house sitting, and pet sitting through his blog to take others along for the journey!
Mark was born deaf with bilateral profound hearing loss. (Although, he shares, “I find it funny to have hearing loss because how can you lose something if you never had it in the first place?”)
Read on to learn more about Mark’s life as a nomad.
I know that you consider yourself a Deaf nomad. Where did you initially grow up and when did you start moving around?
MARK MCGUIRE: [I was] raised in Connecticut. After high school, I lived in nine different states. I lived in Arizona, Alaska, California, Georgia, Colorado, Utah, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and now Florida.
When I finished high school, I went to college in Arizona. I went there for two years, then moved to go to school in Savannah, Georgia for another two more years. I had fun with roommates and classmates from all over the world. Because of meeting all these people from all over, I wanted to see what the real world was all about.
That’s when I decided to move around. These places I moved to exposed me to different experiences. For example, I grew up in a small town in Connecticut which had 16,000 people.
We did not have a fast-food restaurant. We did not have a liquor store. We did not have a movie theater. We had to go to the next town over if we wanted something to do.
When I went to college – to Arizona State University – they had 48,000 students, nearly three times the size of my hometown. So that was a big adjustment. I loved it. I had a great time. Then I went from Arizona to Georgia. In Georgia, we had maybe – I think it was about 2,000 students at the time. The experience was kind of like a small town within a city. So it was a mix of both a small student environment and a big city. That’s when I learned not every place in the world is the same. I was curious about the different corners of the world.
From Savannah, I moved to a small town in California, in the Redwoods which was great, but the jobs were limited to forestry or working for local businesses. I didn’t have the job skill set to work there. Eventually, I had to leave after a year.
I went to work on a cruise ship in southeast Alaska. I lived on the boat. That was different because there’s 20 of us working, and we had 120 passengers. We just run around in a circle every five days. But that was “life” in that part of the world.
Afterward, I lived in different areas from downtown Denver to Cape Cod to Miami.
What have the different places you’ve visited been like in terms of accommodation and understanding of Deaf culture?
MARK MCGUIRE: I would say in the area where there are a lot of Deaf people living, for example, Denver, Boston, Miami, South Florida, Phoenix – in the big cities – there’s more support for the Deaf community. There are more services and more accommodations. In places where it’s like a small town, not so much.
For example, from time to time I need an interpreter. If I lived in a small town, more often than not, the interpreter would have to come from the nearest big city. When I lived on Cape Cod, the interpreter would have to come from Hyannis or Plymouth. But basically, you have to schedule a meeting in advance. It wasn’t like you could get an interpreter at the last minute.
But the hardest part was finding Deaf people to socialize with. I find often you just have to find them in the big cities.
Yes, can you share more about this and what it’s been like meeting people?
In the last – I’m going to say maybe the last two, three years – it’s been easier because we have the internet now. We have more social activity posted online, so we know where we can find Deaf people and where we can meet them. For example, DeafNation Expo, they have it all over the country in different cities. And once every two, three years, an international expo where they’re coming from all over the world, to meet each other in one place. That makes it easy to meet new Deaf people and socialize with them. That also makes it easier to enjoy accommodations.
For the most part, it’s a lot of regional and local meet-ups and finding people who are interested in socializing. The nature of being a nomad means that you have to seek out what you want to do, and who you want to meet in a short amount of time.
Faces Behind the Screen would like to thank Mark McGuire for participating in our storytelling project. If you’re interested in sharing your story with us, fill out our nomination form.
Faces Behind the Screen is a storytelling project focusing on members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community.