Hometown: Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Currently Living In: New York, NY
Bio: Sam is a 33-year-old director, writer and designer who grew up in Honduras. After a harrowing journey, Sam found himself at the Ali Forney Center (AFC)—a non-profit organization close to the heart of Origins, that helps protect and empower homeless LGBTQIA+ youth in NYC, when he was kicked out of his home at 16. He now sits on their Board of Directors. This is his story.
You’ve led a trailblazing life. How has it helped shape your journey as part of the LGBTQIA+ community?
For me, being kicked out of my home at 16, actually allowed me to be myself—free without any limitations for the first time. I think it just allowed me to yearn to be myself so much more.
What is one of the most defining moments of your journey so far?
The most thrilling for me has just been to accept myself, love myself, and get to know myself as a person, specifically now as an adult. I think it’s a really beautiful thing for me to finally feel grounded and know exactly who I am.
And what are you most proud of?
Being an artist. The ability to wake up every day and do the things that I love to do. I’m also really proud of knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life, which did take me a while to get to. But I think once you get there and once you really allow yourself to leap into your greatness, it’s a feeling that no one can take away from you—and it’s a feeling that’s completely limitless.
How do you express your most authentic self?
By making art; by the things that I wear; by the people that I have around me, and the values that I have in my life. They’re very, very important to me, I would say the most important thing for me is to make art through theater and film, and music—it really, really fills my soul.
Tell us about your experience with the Ali Forney Center (AFC).
It’s been a gift—not only because I’ve been able to benefit from the incredible resources that they have, but I also have had the chance to meet a plethora of people that I never would have met in my life. I’ve been able to see into their journeys and what it was like for them to grow up in their own ways and with their own hardships—hardships that eventually led them to organizations like the Ali Forney Center. It’s been a really eye-opening experience to see how much hardship and danger LGBTQIA+ people are going through, and we consistently need organizations like AFC to allow people to have fellowship, so that we can all survive and continue to live our lives, as it was intended.
You now sit on the AFC Board of Directors, what are your hopes for the center’s future?
Expansion. There are still so many people out there who need the kind of resources that AFC is able to provide, and sometimes they’re not able to reach those resources because of where they live, or their circumstances. I think the more we exist, and the more visible we are, and the more we’re able to live with grace and have access to resources, the more normalized it’s going to be and people are going to eventually treat us better. But, it starts with us having the resources to be able to do that to begin with.
One last question: If you could tell your 8-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
Just keep going, trust your gut, and hold onto that feeling that you have—that you’re going to be ok. I think having that sense of self and self-esteem is a really, really big thing. And I wish I understood how valuable that was when I was a child, and how attainable that could’ve been for me when it was taken away from me for so long. So I would say to keep going—and keep your head up.