Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf 2019 Conference

On July 16 to 21, the Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (RAD) hosted a national conference in Austin, Texas at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.

RAD is a nonprofit organization established in 1977 that seeks to establish and maintain a society of deaf lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other identities, to foster fellowship, defend their rights, and promote their social welfare.

The Daily Moth did an interview with RAD President Paul Kiel, who became the new president, taking over from the previous president Henry Carter.


How many people went and from which states and countries?


101 people showed up. Some were from Canada and from U.K. Most were from the U.S. It was a great crowd. The conference is biannual and is to help us know more about each other through workshops, meetings, changing the bylaws, to increase awareness of others, and to be together. That’s the purpose of our conferences since 1977. It was the 26th and the next conference will be the 27th.


You did mention in a previous discussion that it is important to support young LGBTQIA, that you don’t want to see them go into the wrong crowd or they might be going through hard times. Can you expand on this topic of deaf youths?


That’s a good question. It’s a crucial time in this year and this generation. Many young people are kicked out of their homes. Parents reject them, churches reject them, or friends reject them. They end up being alone. What happens to them? Their mental health might decline. What happens next? We must go and save their lives and show that we have a home. We’ll take care of you and help you with your identity. We’ll work with you as you grow up to become a leader of tomorrow. They can be leaders. It’s important to work with young people.

Alex: The conference had a keynote presentation by Michael Turgeon and four different workshops.

One workshop was led by José-Ovi Velasquez with the topic, “LGBTQUIA: ASL and Identification.” Here is a brief video from him on this topic.


I’m gay. But do I use this sign? No. I am gay. What is the difference between the sign and spelling it out? The signs for lesbian, what is the difference? How do you identify yourself? Suppose there is a same-sex husband couple who has a nephew and niece. Do they sign “uncle” twice? How do you identify yourself? “He’s my partner.” Or “He’s my husband?” Or “He’s my other half, his name is Shawn?” Which one? Which vocabulary do you use? What is the correct sign to identify yourself?

Alex: Another workshop was led by Taniel Stamatovic Wood with the topic, “The Greatest Misconception: LGBTQI vs Religion.” Here is a brief video from him on this topic.


We are puzzled at why religious people are still prejudiced against us. Where is this coming from? It is an intense fear. Some parents have kicked out their teenagers or refuse to attend a same-sex wedding to celebrate. Where is this from? I will share my experiences of being in an independent, fundamentalist church. I used to be a part of it but quit it for good. I learned later and was shocked that they only use six verses to preach against us out of 31,000 Bible verses. That’s where it’s coming from. I will share how I protect them and myself from the prejudice. This workshop will clear up the misconceptions with the right tools and information so you can know what to do.

Alex: The conference honored Claudia Morton as the “Woman of the Year.” There was an entertaining “PHUN” event and attendees went out to visit several places in San Antonio and Austin.

Here are some images of the conference, which was provided by RAD.

[Images of RAD conference goers attending workshops and socializing]

Nice, that looks like a great time. Let’s go back to the interview with Kiel.


Bisexual, gay, lesbian, transsexual, and other people, please contact us and we can help you with your identity, to look into who you are and come out. If you’re “hidden” or whatever, you still know where you can ask for more questions and get answers on your sexual identity. We’ll help you with your identity. We’re here for this purpose.

We ask straight allies and those who are unsure about people’s sexual needs and desires to contact us and we’ll be happy to explain. Also, please call out those people who hurt us or bully us. We are innocent. We love people. We are peaceful. That’s all. If we are being bullied, we ask you straight allies to confront them.

Alex: Thank you for your time, Kiel. The next RAD conference will be in 2021. It has not yet been determined where it will take place.

If you’re interested to become a member of RAD or to learn more about the organization, you can go to their website at www.deafrad.org.

Website: www.deafrad.org