About Me

Graphic computer drawn image of Ryan DeCarsky. He is a white man with white teeth. He is smiling and wearing a white dress shirt with a dark blue tie, brown belt, and blue pants.

About me: I am a white cis- gay/queer man pursuing my MA/PhD in Sociology at the University of Washington, Seattle. I was born and raised in the Bay Area of California to a single mom in a multi-generational, working class household. I grew up knowing education was important but I never thought I would gain the privilege to build my life around it. My sexuality, like many, was not accepted in my home and I felt lost from years of conflict about my identity and place. I received my BA in Sociology and American Indian & Indigenous Studies, with minors in History and Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2019; it was during that time I gained the knowledge to make sense of myself and the potential impact research could have on the social world. At UCSB, I was heavily mentored by the late Dr, Inés Talamantez, who with the help of Dr. Felicia Lopez and Delores Mondragón shaped me into the scholar I am today.

Why do I research my way: I strive to practice research that is decolonial, queer, and participatory … which can be a way of saying I try to do research that cares about and centers the community I work with. In my view, these approaches to research call into question the power dynamics long at work in academia which sought to objectify (to measure) subjects of research (French and Swain 1997; Smith 1999; Parrado et. al, 2005; Kovach 2009; Robinson 2019) and challenge institutional barriers held through methodological norms. Research is a circular process, where actions and reflections influence each other. Research is also a huge privilege that I have, it is an opportunity for me to be a resource, a facilitator, and most importantly a learner myself.

How it applies: As a researcher currently engaged with the Deaf-LGBTQ+ community, it is crucial to acknowledge my own positionality as a queer, white, cisgender, hearing student of American Sign Language. In studying the intersection and relationship between Deaf and Queer identities my position as an LGBTQ+ individual, and user of American Sign Language greatly aided my ability to see and explore the processes I lay out in this work; however, my identity as a hearing, able-bodied person means that I cannot and do no claim to have full understanding of the lived experiences I explore. The limitations and privileges that come with one’s positionality must be leaned into and embraced to better serve the communities one works with. As a primarily qualitative scholar, I am often a guest in the communities I study and learn from; I view the knowledge I gain as a gift. I view allyship as a verb and I am committed to actions that support the communities I work with; it is my intention with this work to properly represent and center the words and hands of my respondents. In order to accomplish this, I attempt to gather continuous feedback before, during, and after a study. In this process, I actively question my place in the process and question myself about each decision. It is my hope that this reflective work may contribute to growing efforts in the design and implementation of methods to engage populations previously considered unreachable and invite more thought about the importance of community minded research. 

At UW, I am closely mentored by Heather D. Evans and advised by a variety of faculty across Sociology, GWSS, Disability Studies and the Jackson School of International Studies.

As a researcher I am interested in
  • Sociological understandings of race, gender, and sexualities
  • Intersections of Queer and Crip (subset of Critical Disability Studies) theory
  • Culturally driven knowledge production
  • Institutions and the organizations which uphold them
  • Development and application of decolonial, Queer, and participatory methods

Graphic Portrait by friend Asia Becker

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