Deaf UtopiaPublished on April 19, 2022
Format: eBook Source: Library
A heartfelt and inspiring memoir and Deaf culture anthem by Nyle DiMarco, actor, producer, two-time reality show winner, and cultural icon of the international Deaf community.
Before becoming the actor, producer, advocate, and model that people know today, Nyle DiMarco was half of a pair of Deaf twins born to a multi-generational Deaf family in Queens, New York. At the hospital one day after he was born, Nyle “failed” his first test—a hearing test—to the joy and excitement of his parents.
In this moving and engrossing memoir, Nyle shares stories, both heartbreaking and humorous, of what it means to navigate a world built for hearing people. From growing up in a rough-and-tumble childhood in Queens with his big and loving Italian-American family to where he is now, Nyle has always been driven to explore beyond the boundaries given him.
A college math major and athlete at Gallaudet—the famed university for the Deaf in Washington, DC—Nyle was drawn as a young man to acting, and dove headfirst into the reality show competitions America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars—ultimately winning both competitions.
Deaf Utopia is more than a memoir, it is a cultural anthem—a proud and defiant song of Deaf culture and a love letter to American Sign Language, Nyle’s primary language. Through his stories and those of his Deaf brothers, parents, and grandparents, Nyle opens many windows into the Deaf experience.
Deaf Utopia is intimate, suspenseful, hilarious, eye-opening, and smart—both a memoir and a celebration of what makes Deaf culture unique and beautiful.
Nyle DiMarco loves being Deaf. He is proud of his family, his culture, and his language. But that hasn’t always been so for Deaf people. In this memoir he compares and contrasts the way different generations of his family have been treated by family members and the educational system.
I had seen a few of his posts of social media so I knew who he was prior to picking up this book. I wasn’t aware though that he had been on – and won – both America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars in the same year.
One of the things that learned about in this book is the differences in styles between ASL users. He writes about being able to tell fluent signers from new people. I watched a few episodes of a TV show that he produced with an all ASL-using cast. It was super evident once I knew what to look for.
He also covers a lot of the decisions that need to be made when raising a Deaf child. Do you want to pursue speech therapy? Should your schooling be in a Deaf school or a non-Deaf school? He tells the stories of several generations of his family to highlight when these decisions have been taken away from Deaf people and the trauma that can come from being told to suppress part of yourself.
Living in a hearing world means constantly advocating for yourself. He tells stories of times when that went well and when it didn’t.
Even if you don’t know Nyle DiMarco, I’d recommend this book for its loving look at the Deaf culture in the U.S.