Faces Behind the Screen: Aarron Loggins
Photo courtesy of aarronloggins.com
Aarron Loggins grew up in Chicago, Illinois. By age three his parents realized that he was hard of hearing, and the family was shocked. They were trying to say, “How do we communicate with this kid?”
“I use the term “deaf” because I’m more advertising of being proud among the community.”
At first, when they found out, they tried different sounds at home. When Aarron didn’t respond, they took him to an audiologist where they found out that he was deaf.
“So at age three, they put me into preschool with all different people who were deaf or hard of hearing. That’s when I started to learn sign language from there. But I don’t know if it’s American Sign Language or Signed English, because it was back in the ’80s so we didn’t know the term American Sign Language until I got older.”
Aarron describes himself as in both [hearing and deaf] worlds. “So when I’m in the hearing community, I’ll say that I’m deaf, because I’m deaf and proud. I’m graduated from Gallaudet University. In the deaf world, I’m more like deaf and hard of hearing.”
Below, Aarron shares his journey discovering himself as a black, deaf male, and talks about the importance of believing in yourself, and how he learned to do just that.
What is your greatest struggle?
AARRON LOGGINS: My greatest struggle is that growing up, being an African American, deaf person, in the community –when the opportunity comes, it’s like, OK, yeah, wait until next time. It really frustrated me because I wanted opportunities right away. The journey gave me experiences and taught me that I have to feel confident inside me first instead of me feeling confident outside. You have to build from the inside. Say, “OK, I can do it.” I can show it instead of doing a whole lot of talking. I’m a determined person and I have to fight for my turn. I have to fight for my dream.
I’ve fought for my dream since I was 14 years old. When I was at Thurston Junior High School they were doing a graduation speech and audition. I decided I wanted to audition, and I’d have to speak in front of the whole, entire school – deaf, hard of hearing, and the hearing. It was a surprise because they’d never had a deaf person speak in the mainstream school.
The term is the word “persistence.” Persistence, it was just a way of life. My quote is that “Without persistence, will you give up? Yes. With persistence, then, you’ll never give up.” So I use that term from the age of 14.
I was the first male in my family who graduated from university.
At the age of 18, I graduated from mainstream school. I decided I’ve been in the mainstream for 18 years. I had never been in a deaf institution or in a private school, so Gallaudet was my first pick. The reason why I chose Gallaudet was that I wanted to build a black, deaf identity. In order to do that I’d need to find my own deaf identity.
In the mainstream, you don’t have enough of the programs for the deaf or hard of hearing – it’s limited. When I go to Gallaudet, my life changed from there – my sign language, my identity – everything changed and I could build more confidence inside. I was involved with a lot of activities, and I graduated from Gallaudet with my bachelor’s degree in theater arts. I was the first male in my family who graduated from university.
My next journey is just to keep on doing everything that I have to do. I competed for and won Mister Deaf International for the US in 2014, becoming the first African American who won Mister Deaf International. From there, that’s where my movement started – believe in yourself.
Part 2 Coming Soon
Faces Behind the Screen would like to thank Aarron Loggins 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.