LGBTQ+ Youth Leader Spotlights: Sam & Jameson
Sam (they/Sam) is a trans/nonbinary LGBTQ+ rights youth activist. They fight for the right to live as every American should in this country. Sam has worked with organizations such as One Colorado as a member of their GSA Leadership Council, speaking at 2022 Denver Pride and LGBTQ+ Lobby Days. They use theater and art as vessels for social change and advocacy. As a youth looking ahead to the future, Sam strives to cultivate an environment of hope for a future in which every person will be able to live out loud and not have to change themselves to conform to society. They were invited to speak at Vice President Kamala Harris’ Pride event in DC! They reflected on the experience:
"Having the opportunity to be able to meet so many of my Queer idols, people I have looked up to for so long was life-changing! As most of you know, being Queer or Trans in this country (especially as a youth) is terrifying - not knowing where the fate of our core rights lies. To be able to be surrounded by so much queer joy and support was a bright spot in a dark and scary time. It is also extremely important for me as a Queer and Trans person who is not yet able to vote to have my voice and identity respected by the leaders of this country. Having my voice heard by The Vice President of the United States was history-changing!"
Jameson (they/them) AKA Ophelia Peaches - who you may know from Generation Drag - is also a member of our GSA Leadership Council. They performed an incredible number at Denver Mayor Mike Johnston's inauguration celebration! They reflected on the experience:
"I can’t even describe how exciting it was to be invited by State Representative Leslie Herod to perform at Denver Vibes for the inauguration of new Denver Mayor; Mike Johnston. I represented Dragutante, which is a Colorado nonprofit that provides a safe stage for youth to explore the art of drag. This event was extra important to me, because I shared the stage with a new performer that represents Drag Kings (an under-represented demographic within the Drag community). Justin Trouble brought an energy to the stage that had people on their feet cheering! As a teen in the LGBTQ+ community, it meant a lot to me to represent Queer youth in a public forum like this. We are very fortunate in the state of Colorado to have public servants and representatives who actively work towards equity, diversity, and inclusion!"
Transcript of Sam's speech for Vice President Kamala Harris' Pride event:
"I’ve never been interested in being invisible and erased." - Laverne Cox
Hi everyone I am Sam, my pronouns are They/Them but you can use my name in place of pronouns. I am an LGBTQ+ rights youth activist from Denver, Colorado. I fight for the right to live as every American does in this country, with rights protecting them and freedom to express themself. I use theater and art as vessels for my messaging about social change and advocacy. As a youth looking ahead to our future, I strive to cultivate an environment of hope for a future in which every person will be able to live out loud and not have to change themselves to conform to society. Even though I do not fit into what society expects of me, I continue to authentically be myself. I will always fight for the right to live in a world that often feels is not meant for me and for all others who also have expansive gender identities. In spite of all of the anti-queer and dehumanizing legislation happening around us, it is vital to me as a queer student that I am able to see myself represented in daily life from school curriculum to what I see in the media and our country’s leaders. All we want and need are safe spaces where we can be our authentic selves.On November 19, 2022, just minutes before midnight on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, an attacker shoved his way into a crowd full of love and celebration at Club Q in Colorado Springs and committed an act of violence on the club. We must not let the victims of this senseless tragedy die in our hearts or history will repeat itself. So let's say their names: Raymond Green Vance, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Kelly Loving, and Ashley Paugh. As a Queer youth, it makes me scared that Queer safe spaces are continuous targets of hate and prejudice. I am scared for the future because in a few short years, I will be on my own in the world and I should not have to be scared to enter places of Queer safety and celebration with the thought in the back of my head that I could have my life taken from me at any moment because of one person with a belief and a gun. It is outrageous that a single person can decide that just because someone was born queer, and is comfortable enough to celebrate their identity, they do not deserve to live.This fall I will be a senior in high school. I have started to explore and apply to colleges. It is deeply saddening to me that I have to eliminate college programs that may be perfect fits for my educational and creative interests because they happen to be in one of the 19 states that have decided that I do not exist as a human and my identity is not valid. That is almost half of the United States. I believe that all students should have equal access to education and not have some people's close-minded opinions negatively affect where they are able to attend school.Even in these overwhelming moments of fear and hate, I have hope for the future. I hope that all will be able to live in a world that values and validates people of all identities.Because of people who are fighting to make a difference in the lives of queer individuals in the United States, such as Madam Vice President Kamala Harris, I can see a near future where I will not have to wake up every day trying to figure out which one of my civil rights will be taken away from me.Thank you so much for fighting for me and for my queer peers to be able to live and thrive, and to be able to show up as our proud authentic selves. As a person that can’t vote yet, it is crucial that my elected officials take the extra steps to hear my voice. For all of these reasons, I have the privilege and honor of welcoming a person who has gone above and beyond in fighting for queer civil and human rights that will allow us to be ourselves, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris.