“Same Love in ASL” Video Works to Break Boundaries
Just a week and a half after Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert accepted the award for “Best Video with a Social Message” for their single “Same Love” at MTV’s Video Music Awards came the premiere of another “Same Love” music video, this one performed solely in American Sign Language.
Co-produced by Summer Crider Loeffler and Jenica von Garrel, the Same Love in ASL music video features a variety of hearing and Deaf performers who create a storyline that follows two gay, Deaf men as they struggle to come out to their families. As the song picks up the video cuts to performers Bobby Loeffler and von Garrel, who interpret Macklemore and Mary Lambert’s lyrics into American Sign Language. The video premiered on YouTube Wednesday night and had over 8,000 views the next day.
ASL interpretations of music are popular within Deaf culture, a newfound phenomenon that grew out of a tradition of storytelling within the community. The project started off as a simple video, but after careful thought and with tremendous support it turned into a community-wide endeavor, members of the Same Love in ASL team said.
“We love the message of the song and we wanted to make sure that that message got across to members of the Deaf community,” Loeffler said in an interview with SensibleReason.
“It began with a simple idea,” Crider Loeffler said in a personal interview video found on the project’s Facebook page. “‘Hey, we should film an ASL interpretation to that song.’ Suddenly it was so much more than just the immediate people involved in the filming donating their time to this project. So many people willingly shared their stories and experiences, their joys and sorrows, uniting all of us in our fight for equal rights. This showed me that now is the right time for all of us, gay or lesbian, hearing or deaf, to come together in our goal for marriage equality.”
Von Garrel hopes that by spreading Macklemore’s message to the Deaf community, their video will help strengthen the ties within the LGBTQ Deaf community and create a commonwealth of support and love.
“My intent getting involved in this video is to give hope to others who are also struggling [with the coming out process] to let them know that they’re not alone, that times and perspectives are changing, and that in time it will work out,” von Garrel said in her personal interview video. “It gets better.”
After announcing plans for the music video on their Facebook page “Same Love in ASL,” and through the hashtag #sameloveinasl on Twitter, the team received nothing but positive responses, Loeffler said.
“It’s been two-fold for us; this amazing feeling of support but it’s also set these lofty expectations. All these people who are now sharing their personal lives with us and these private moments of their weddings – you don’t want to let these people down because you realize how much it means to all those people.”
Steven Jones and his partner Guerin Gagliastri submitted a photo to the project after seeing a friend “like” the Facebook page.
“While neither of us are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, we both met at the Rochester Institute of Technology where we fell in love and we came out, all while being surrounded by the support of the Deaf community there,” Jones said in an email. “Many of our friends are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing or in the Interpreting program and it was with their love and support that we felt like it was okay to be open about our relationship. We wanted to be a part of it [this project] because it supports two communities that we are a part of and that we love.”
Although they hope the positivity continues, especially after the release of the video, Loeffler said they recognize that not everyone will agree with the project.
“There are going to be people out there that don’t feel the same way as us and we’re not agreeing with what they say, but we defend their right to say it. If we’re going to create a dialogue we want that dialogue to be respectful both ways. If it [the video] does nothing else it will create dialogue between communities that don’t often necessarily have it.”
The next step for the project is exposure, Loeffler said. The performers are encouraging viewers to promote the video with the hashtag #sameloveinasl, in hopes that they will get Macklemore’s attention and more support for the project.
“The immediate goal of the project, of course, in our wildest dreams would be marriage equality. That people are so moved by this video that they don’t care about what their religion may say, it’s all about equality,” Loeffler said. “Another dream situation would be that performers everywhere recognize the power of getting their message out to the Deaf community and start to incorporate ASL interpretation not just as an accessibility thing, but as something that is another form of equality.”