Faces Behind the Screen: Deafies in Drag

Selena and casavina dressed up and smiling

(Selena Minogue): I was Deaf since birth, and I have an older brother who taught me ASL from the beginning.

Casavina: I was supposed to be born hearing, but birth complications happened so I became deaf at an early age. I’m the only Deaf person in my family, and I grew up oral until I was taught sign language at age eight.

(Both): We both met at Gallaudet University (the only Deaf university in the world) and we were introduced by our mutual friends. We eventually started dating a few months later. Now we’ve been together for seven years.

Selena Minogue is an amazing storyteller with facial expressions, and Casavina loves filming and editing videos. Together, we created one-man skit shows. When we both saw RuPaul’s Drag Race season 2, it inspired us to get into drag for skit videos. We enjoyed acting as different characters and being drag queens for stage shows.

Selena and casavina make funny faces with a balloon

(Selena): I consider myself an artist, meaning I can do pretty much anything related to art such as painting, drawing, sewing clothes, wig making, jewelry making, etc.

(Casavina): I grew up speaking three languages daily: ASL, English, and Spanish. People often relied on me for interpreting three languages and I enjoyed it!

(Selena): I love skits! Skits are so much fun to acting and dressing up as different characters!

(Casavina): I love creating comedy skit videos with educational messages behind it. I enjoy telling our experiences or thoughts through comedy.

(Selena): [My proudest moment] was traveling all over the world and meeting so many different deaf people from different countries!

(Casavina): [My proudest moment] is being able to do what I love, and that is creating videos and traveling all over the world to perform in drag.

(Selena): The best thing about being Deaf is the Deaf community. I got a chance to meet so many deaf people that can relate to me as a Deaf person. Also, American Sign Language is such a beautiful language because of the visuals and expressions that enhance my skits.

(Casavina): Being deaf teaches me a lot of new perspectives and boosts my creativity to overcome any barriers and challenges in life.

Selena and Casavina walking down the runway

(Remember a time you felt discriminated)

(Selena): I had a hard time working as a dishwasher at restaurant because most staff thought I’m was better off staying as a dishwasher until I’m old. That’s when I decided to quit as a dishwasher and chase my dream as an artist.

(Casavina): One time at a job interview, the manager noticed my hearing aid and said they needed someone with listening skills at their fast food restaurant, and assumed I wasn’t fit. With a hearing aid on, I hear well enough to converse with people, and I was disappointed that they did not give me a chance.

(Selena): People think that Deaf people cannot hear or talk. I am a hard of hearing person, meaning I can talk very well and hear a little. So not all deaf people can’t hear. There are a variety of deaf people. There are some deaf people who depend on hearing aids or cochlear implants that communicate with other hearing people. There are some deaf people that cannot hear, but you can talk to them through paper or gestures.

(Casavina): A common mistake people make when interacting with deaf people is not gesturing at all when talking. Reading lips is difficult so pointing or simple gestures help a lot for me. I see hearing people enjoy playing charades; I think they should do that with us every day!

(Give one piece of advice you would people who are deaf or hard of hearing)

(Selena): Don’t ever let being disabled define you. Just be yourself and do what you love to do! Don’t ever let people tell you that you can’t do anything based on your hearing. You can do it!

(Casavina): Not everything is easy, but there’s always a way to achieve something. It’s all about the commitment and investment you put into it.

Pictures of four people who were interviewed for the Faces Behind the Screen project

Faces Behind the Screen is a storytelling project focusing on communities that benefit from a more accessible web.