Ironwood native’s struggle for acceptance, love

SUPERIOR READS • By Victor Volkman

Assembly Required: Notes from a Deaf Gay Life
By Raymond Luczak

Raymond Luczak’s collection of autobiographical essays, Assembly Required: Notes From a Deaf Gay Life was accessible to me because it is very much the story of an outsider growing up in the 1980s. Growing up in a fairly large Catholic family of nine children, Raymond had a lot to contend with. His father, a butcher, barely made ends meet, and growing up in Ironwood, a small town in the Western U.P. with a population of around 5,000, Raymond had no role models.
He would eventually meet the one other deaf person in town, an elderly man who washed dishes at the Holiday Inn. However, the thinking in those days was that deaf children should NOT be taught American Sign Language (ASL), because they would quickly give up on ever building reasonable lip reading and speaking skills.
Raymond became deaf at seven months as a side effect of an illness. Because he was in a big family and prone to solitary activities, his deafness was not discovered and treated until he was two years old. This was all before the age of microprocessors, so Raymond had to wear a bulky apparatus under his shirt (“like a bra”) that had wires trailing out and up to his ears.
As you might expect, children tend to pick on anyone who is even the slightest bit different, and Raymond’s torment unfortunately was a silent one. Luckily, in elementary school, Raymond eventually obtained one childhood friend who accepted him as he was…

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