Sam (pronouns: they/them) is a 32-year-old, black, non-binary, DC native who lived up and down the east coast before settling in Austin in 2016. Sam choose Austin because they needed to challenge theirself to get out of their old town and needed a safe space to actually transition. Being from the east myself, I asked Sam why they felt as though DC wasn’t a safe place to transition, as the East Coast is said to be this very liberal and accepting place. Sam answered by saying, “DC was good for my personal life as far as like my friends but when it came to my job and my family, no. I was working for a place that was very big on being inclusive and diverse but when it came to people of the trans experience, I saw it first hand, that it was not a place you want to be.”
Sam is currently transitioning and is aware of the intersectionality they exemplify. I asked Sam to tell me about their story and they stated, “Gender is an experience and it is an experience for each individual, and for me I guess the safest box you can put me in is non binary even though I identify more with masculinity I still honor and own my feminine attributes.” They went on to say,
“For me I think I have always known that I am other and it’s crazy when I look back at pictures from high sch
ool or either in my 20s and even when I tried to like exude femininity it always looked like a little boy in drag. Like I felt like Tu Wong Fu,like “hey little latin boy in drag’ like it always, it just didn’t fit, and I would try to force it and myself to figure it out and it just didn’t work. ”
Sam works with the LGBTQ+ community, full time at an independent Austin school and part-time at the Center for Health Empowerment (CHE).The work that they are doing helps to pave the road for the next generation of queer individuals. “I work very closely with our students who defy the binary and then I also work for Center for Health Empowerment (CHE) providing people with dope non judgemental health care,” Sam stated.
I asked Sam how they first heard about ABP and why they think it is important. Sam replied,” I officially already heard of ABP the year it actually picked back up when Sheldon started doing it. Then I went to the pride event last year at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Austin Black Pride is important because representation matters and another big thing is, realistically, there are no legit consistent safe spaces for people of color in the city of Austin and it’s a lot of us who need to meet each other or who really grow from each other who haven’t had the opportunity to link. It’s detrimental to show not only our buying power and our buy in but letting us have fellowship in a safe space collectively.”
If you want to hang out with Sam and have other conversations such as this one, be sure to come to the free Austin Black Pride event, Their Black Brunch, this Sunday, September 16 beginning at 1 pm at Tillery Kitchen and Bar.