I never realized how small the Deaf world was until I went to Deaf school for the first time. I knew my parents had gone to Gallaudet, along with too many aunts, uncles and cousins to mention. I just didn't put 2 and 2 together and figure out that so did many of my teachers from school!
My freshman year was a tough one for me-- I had to adjust to a new school and a home away from Mom and Dad; my sister didn't want her little sister tagging along behind her and would tell me to "shoo-shoo!"; and my parents also separated that year. For a young girl, that equates to her world falling apart! I needed someone to talk to, so I went to see my school counselor. I confessed everything that was happening in my life-- my parents impending divorce, my big mean old sister, it was as if the world was against me! It felt wonderful to unload and have someone hear me and make me feel better and I just knew I did the right thing.
The next day at school, several teachers came up to me and said they were sorry to hear about my Mom and Dad's separation. Huh?? Where did that come from? No one knew about my parents getting a divorce except...for... the...*gasp!* The Deaf counselor!!! I was so upset that I went and told my Mom what happened. She asked me what the counselor's name was and it turned out that it was one of her classmates. Mom explained to me then, that many of my teachers were her and Dad's classmates from either Deaf school or Gallaudet. She took the yearbook from the previous year and pointed out all her classmates to me, so that I could be more careful with my words and who I said them to. Mom went to talk with my counselor and of course it was all denied that she said anything. I never went back to her again and switched to a hearing counselor.
Today, the Deaf world is still small. True, there are more Deaf people than ever before, but the same names come up over and over and people everywhere recognize them. You may be a friend of a friend of a friend, or so-and-so's classmate. With today's technology, events -- good or bad -- spread like wildfire faster than ever: VPs, Internet and pagers. I got a rude awakening all those years ago, and it was a lesson I have never forgotten. Be careful what you say, there are no such things as secrets here.