Raymond Luczak - Deaf and Gay Writer

Photo of Raymond Luczak, a published deaf and gay writer.
Raymond Luczak. Photo © Lou Miranda

Raymond Luczak is a deaf, gay writer. In an interview, Luczak discussed his life, his writing, and future.

Luczak's Deaf Childhood

Q: You became deaf at seven months old because of pneumonia. How did you communicate with your hearing siblings?

A: My deafness wasn't diagnosed until I was two and half years old. I [had] a hearing aid and speech therapy. I didn't learn sign language until I was 15, [and] it was Signing Exact English (SEE).

I didn't know there was Deaf culture.

Q: When did you start to write?

A: I began to write daily after my grandmother died, so I've been at it for over 30 years. Writing was my refuge when no one in my mainstream classes wanted to interact with me.

Q: Did you attend public schools or deaf schools?

A: I attended public schools. At first, a full-time [oral] program; I was eventually mainstreamed full time. My first deaf school was Gallaudet [University].

Gallaudet University Experience

Why Gallaudet? Did you learn American Sign Language (ASL) at Gallaudet?

I knew I needed to be among Deaf people. I also knew that Washington, DC [had] one gay bar. At Gallaudet, I picked up ASL quickly. I can't believe I used SEE because I don't remember it.

Luczak's Coming Out

Q: When did you come out gay to your family and/or to the deaf community?

A: I truly came out to the Deaf community in the summer and fall of 1984.

I wrote letters to my family.

Writing Just Part of Career

Q: Is writing the only way you make a living?

A: I had a full-time non-writing job until a few months after 9/11. The company where I'd worked for eight years folded. I decided to try striking it out on my own. I had no choice, really, because there were simply no jobs available!

I've done odd jobs, which I still do, but I'm able to write full-time because I can live cheaply in Minneapolis. I write for SIGNews, work as a Support Service Provider [SSP], and do presentations from time to time.

Out of Print Luczak Works

Q: Tactile Mind Press [a former publisher] went out of business. How can anyone get copies of your out of print works? Any plans to reprint them or make them available online (like an e-book)?

A: While I do own the rights, I haven't been seeking a publisher to reprint. I am always looking forward to my next book. I haven't pursued e-books because there are too many e-book formats.

Some of my books have taken a long time to publish. I appreciate people reading my work and commenting, but it did take 12 years to get my second book of poems This Way To The Acorns published.

I've written a few more collections worth of poems. I have five new book projects under consideration by publishers. Am I going to wait for them to come a-callin'? Nah. I'm already working on my next book!

Luczak and the Deaf Community

Q: Are you involved with the deaf community?

I'm currently the president of Minnesota Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (MNRAD), a Deaf GLBT organization.

Luczak and Deafblindness

Q: Your site mentions "Ever since my first partner was a DeafBlind man more than two decades ago, I've become quite attuned to this community." Have you ever written about deafblindness?

A: I've written about deafblindness, but that remark was related to a production of my play I Never Slept With Helen Keller, which was canceled. It is my hope that I will get it produced, and if so, I would aim to get the play published afterward.

Luczak and Handtype Press

Q: Handtype Press publishes your work and others', and a free chapter book series, Lansel. Lansel is about life at a deaf residential school.

A: I'd like to clarify what Handtype Press is. Handtype Press showcases literature and art created by signers, or about the Deaf or signing experience. I set up Handtype Press for a few reasons.

[One] was to fill the gap left by The Tactile Mind Press.

Another was to publish Eyes Of Desire 2: A Deaf GLBT Reader, an anthology of writings by the Deaf GLBT community. I am being very judicious about what I choose to publish. I want to make sure that each Handtype title is of sterling quality.

I am very proud that Eyes Of Desire 2 has three rave reviews so far. The book will have two more print reviews. If all goes well this year, Handtype Press will announce a few new titles.

As for Lansel, I need to finish. Lansel is hardly a romance; it's more of a soap opera than anything else. Lansel had over 5,000 readers when it was serialized on the Tactile Mind Weekly e-zine. I have plans to resume it, but I have been busy with marketing and selling Eyes Of Desire 2.

Luczak's Future Writing

Q: Do you intend to write primarily about being deaf and gay?

A: While it seems that I write primarily about being Deaf and gay, it is not so. Out of my seven books, only two are about the Deaf GLBT community. My Deaf gay novel Men With Their Hands, which won first place in the Project: QueerLit 2006 Contest, will be published by Suspect Thoughts Press later in 2008. I have other books yet to be written, and none of them deal with being a Deaf GLBT person.

Q: What do you enjoy most -- writing plays/novels, or making films?

A: They each have their own joys. Plays can be fun to write, but it takes forever to get a play produced. I love rehearsal because it means I can rewrite so that it's even better.

Novels are harder because it's like a marathon. Making films is time-consuming and expensive. I prefer to collaborate, which is why I'm editing the DVD featuring ASL storyteller Manny Hernandez. I know I haven't finished my film Ghosted, but I expect to finish it. My little plate is quite full!

Raymond Luczak's website is at www.raymondluczak.com.


Raymond Luczak. Email to Raymond Luczak