“Who am I?
I am G.Y.S., a profoundly deaf man. I have blue eyes and red hair, which I wear long. I am gay and Russian, and was born in 1978 in the Ukraine, but I moved myself to Germany when I was fourteen. You’ll learn how and why later.
My words are a mélange of impressions, memories and observations for I love many things and am distressed by many things. I have wandered to a number of countries and enjoy meeting people and getting to know new ideas and perspectives. I find the world both a fascinating and terrible place.
Photography, Nature, Overcoming Disabilities, Ending Homophobia, Being Deaf and Love are some of the topics that interest, concern and keep my attention. In writing about me I wish I could have said something clever, unique or witty, but this is simply me: sometimes I’m silly, sometimes I’m angry, sometimes you may find me annoying or overly sad but I’m always honest and sincere.
Flash bits about me? I have a beautiful pink “Grecian” style nightgown I love to wear. I once blew up a vacuum cleaner (not on purpose!). I prefer to sleep during the day but I’m not a vampire. Sometimes I hate being bothered to eat because chewing is usually necessary but can be so very boring.”
Silence Is Multi-Colored in My World is a beautiful and moving collection of essays, diary and blog entries written by a young deaf man, whom the reader comes to know as G.Y.S. A Russian national born in the Ukraine in 1978 and raised in an orphanage, G.Y.S. escaped the horrors of his life on the streets as an adolescent sex worker when he’s rescued by an unnamed foreigner who bought his freedom and brought him to Germany. They settled in the countryside near Berlin and his rescuer later became his husband.
The collection was assembled and edited by author Red Haircrow, and is based on the writings and actual experiences of G.Y.S., as well as Mr. Haircrow’s personal memories, experiences and observations of this young man. Silence is written in the voice of G.Y.S., and serves as an intimate literary memoir of a man whose life was far from easy, given his disability and the emotional scars he sustained as a result of his early years. And yet, the portrait that emerges through his writing is one of an incredibly thoughtful, intelligent, courageous, kind and passionate man who lived and learned through these experiences with his humanity, compassion and ability to love in tact. The collection has been published in memoriam as sadly this man’s life was cut short at the age of thirty-one.
As a native Russian with a fluency in German and for whom I assume English was a third language, all of the essays and entries are extremely well written in a lyrical and poetic style. Owing to his multi-lingual knowledge and abilities, there is also a distinctive charm in the syntax and cadence of the writing and the manner in which G.Y.S. expresses his thoughts and feelings in English.
The writing covers a multitude of topics, from the deeply personal to the quotidian, the whimsical to weighty social and political issues. The collection is divided into four parts and begins with On Being Deaf, in which G.Y.S. offers a deeply intimate series of essays on his feelings and experiences in living as a profoundly deaf man. On Living and Loving, the second demarcation of this collection, offers a host of entries detailing G.Y.S.’s daily life (A Day in The Life of G.Y.S.), his moments of playfulness and fun (The Dangers of “Never Wet” Wonder Sand), his restlessness and need to explore the world (Remembering August; Wanderlust by Bus), his feelings on love (Not Like They Told You Love Is; Love Without the “L” Word) and on being gay (Gay Relationships and Life). The latter entries in this collection chronicle some of the horrors of his beginnings and early life, his experiences at the orphanage, living on the streets and the abuse he endured (Memories and Observations). The writing then turns to G.Y.S.’s thoughts and feelings on discrimination, homophobia and heterophobia, religion and the Catholic Church, child abuse, his impressions of the United States and the cultural differences between American and German society (Plaints and Protestations).
Throughout the collection G.Y.S. interweaves and honestly shares his feelings on the complexities of his relationship with his husband, his deep love for the man who saved his life, and his own evolution and growth from boy to man within the relationship.
Given the circumstances and events of his life and the candid and intimate manner in which G.Y.S. shares his life through his writing, the collection evokes a multitude of feelings and thoughts as the reader journeys with him. But one entry that stands out most, and to which I found myself returning a number of times for the sheer joy that it brought me and one that I feel in many ways captures the essence of G.Y.S., is found in “Music As A Sensual Experience” in which G.Y.S. describes his elation in feeling the music he could not hear through vibration while at the symphony with his husband.
“Though I closed my eyes too, unlike him, I leaned forward in concentration, kicking off my shoes, pressing my feet against the floor. One hand rested on the arm of my chair, the other was outstretched on the wall behind me. The electricity of the air caressed my skin, and the vibrations through my feet and hands, through my body moved me along with the blood of the music flowing through the very walls. From some vent, cool air distracted me for a moment as it brushed my face, but soon I was overwhelmed when a new rush of energy, urgent in its furious rhythm as it shook the floor…”
I read this collection with a sense of wonder, humility and inspiration and the writing deeply touched me on a multitude of levels. The honesty with which the writing conveys the joys and sorrows, fears and pains, hopes and dreams of this man serves as a testament and reminder of the capacity of the human spirit to not only persist but also to thrive and to soar. Yet, at the same time I was seized with a deep sense of sadness while reading this memoir for the loss of this exceptional man and the hope and possibilities of a life interrupted at too early an age, as well as for the grief and loss that his husband and those unnamed others who knew and loved G.Y.S. endure as a result of the absence of this man from their lives.
Music and Book Trailer: The World of Midnight – Minako Obata (Original Soundtrack from the anime series “Black Lagoon”)