At the end of January, deaf activist, America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars champion, Nyle DiMarco recreated Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” Video in American Sign Language.
The video directed by Jake Wilson is flooded in blue light and full of a male cast to juxtapose Grande’s pink women’s video. The two videos have expanded the meaning and context of “7 Rings.” While Grande can have a girl’s day with her best friends and celebrate their femininity with pink, jewelry and dance parties, DiMarco’s video shows that men, deaf or not, can do the same. The collaboration of the two videos highlights each artists’ platform of equality and artistic expression.
DiMarco’s video retains the same level of sexuality and the joy of a party with same sex friends as Grande’s, however it moves the message further toward promoting the LGBTQ community. DiMarco signed a changed lyric to Grande’s song. Rather than “girls with tattoos who like getting in trouble,” he signed, “gays with tattoos who like getting in trouble.” This reflects DiMarco’s announcement on Twitter in 2015 that he identifies as sexually fluid.
“I’ve always been that way, whether it’s male or female. You know, if they’re beautiful, they’re beautiful,” said DiMarco.
DiMarco told Logo that he has never felt one with the LGBTQ community because of the way he represents his sexuality in the public eye. He compares it with the welcoming community and advocates for the LGBTQ community to support inclusion and to debunk the stigmas.Therefore, DiMarco’s aim at including LGBTQ commentary with ASL advocacy, DiMarco seemed to take great strides to show that the deaf community’s inclusion should act as an example to the LGBTQ community to work to support anyone claiming membership in the community.
The ASL 7 Rings video is not the first time DiMarco has taken steps toward inclusion for the deaf community. He asked Vevo to add subtitles to Grande’s thank u, next video when it came out as closed captions. When 7 Rings came out with captions, he thanked Grande and was inspired to make a full ASL version of the video for the 466 million people with hearing loss. Grande was extremely pleased to have inspired the movement.
When DiMarco competed, and eventually won, season twenty-two of America’s Next Top Model, he advocated for the deaf community by showing that deafness creates extremely minimal obstacles in what a person can do, the person just cannot hear.
He found a way to communicate with the other models, regardless of their lack of effort to learn ASL, and he excelled in all of the challenges–even the music video challenge. Tyra Banks used the production of her music video as a challenge for the models, and by feeling the music’s vibration and timing the lyrics to the vibration, DiMarco was able to sign and mouth the words along with the audio. He surpassed other models in the competition during this challenge, so he has had great experience and talent in making music videos well before “7 Rings.”
DiMarco also uses his platform with The Nyle DiMarco Foundation to help deaf children learn to communicate better with their hearing family members or just society in general. He has taken great strides toward creating complete inclusion between hearing people and the deaf community. His “7 Ring”s ASL video is just one step in his efforts toward equality and self expression.
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