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  • Writer's pictureDelven Shaw

Deaf actors featured in gay films.

With the great success of CODA in 2021, I wanted to explore work with gay themes for deaf actors. PITTSBURG, SIGN, and LOUDER THAN WORDS are recent releases that are worth a look.

Top; LOUDER THAN WORDS (with Marty Lauter, right)

Bottom: SIGN (Jos Castille is on the left in the photo on the left),

PITTSBURGH (Tommy Korn on the right in the right photo)

PITTSBURGH from 2013 is a filmed one-act play, with a single set and two actors in an animated conversation.

The excellent Tommy Korn is Brett, a queer deaf man who seems to have it all together despite his challenges. He is part of a gay sports team, presents as financially successful, and even brushes off his past experiences with those who bully a gay deaf man. Brandon Loyd plays Alex, a hearing man who is - or has been? - Brett’s lover. The fact that Alex does not accept himself as he rages and sleeps in an apartment strewn with trash and dirty clothes may make you wonder what Brett sees in him.

Rory Dering is the director, writer, cinematographer, and composer. PITTSBURGH, which runs for 18 minutes, is featured on Dekkoo.


A more successful short with similar themes is SIGN (perhaps now titled SIGNS OF LOVE), available for free on Youtube.

Preston Sadleir plays Ben, who catches sight of the intriguing Alex (Josh Castille) in the New York subway. The men are great together and work to build a shared language and coupled life. There are clever insights into both deaf and hearing cultures though there is only one audible line of dialogue. YouTube says it has been viewed 1,871,314 times since December 2017, and it deserves many more.

Adam Wachter wrote a brilliant script and contributed a winning score. Broadway actor Andrew Keenan-Bolger directed and did the cinematography and editing. The two creators also have a cameo in the film.


LOUDER THAN WORDS (2017) is another excellent short, available now on YouTube. Marty Lauter plays Niall, a deaf dance student who suddenly must share his rehearsal space with a musician played by Luke Farley. Apryl Wilson is Niall's friend who connects the two men. The film is beautifully shot, with sensitive and effective performance all around.

Julio Dowansingh is the writer and director. Art Parnitudom does lovely work with his cinematography, and Vicent Isler contributes a beautiful score.

I hope that Marty Lauter, Josh Castille, and Tommy Korn get the opportunity to appear in a major film like CODA, as they are beautiful and talented young men.

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