This is a weekly newsletter to put a face to the staff at the DC Center. Every week we will be featuring a staff member. This week, meet Sam! Sam is one of our social workers here at the center and meets with her many clients all throughout the week. This summer, Sam has also been working tirelessly to plan Taking the Stage, Taking a Stand, which will provide a platform for queer voices to speak out against violence they have faced.
September 20, Virgo
Why did you start working at The DC Center?
I began working as a Staff Social Worker at The DC Center in May 2016, with the hope of providing a safe space and tools for healing within a community that I care deeply about. I had always dreamed of working with LGBTQ individuals in my hometown of Washington, DC, and through The DC Center I was given the opportunity to create our mental health program and provide individual, group, and couples therapy to individuals who have been affected by crime, violence, sexual assault and other trauma. It has been an incredible and very rewarding experience.
What is your music anthem?
Canned Heat by Jamiroquai.
What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?
My favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community is the synonymous feeling of unbridled support and connectivity around being fiercely committed to being authentic to yourself and loving who you love. There is a unique beauty and deep strength in the freedom of genuine expression, and I feel those qualities radiate throughout the community.
What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?
I grew up in DC (one of the few and the proud!), and love so much of the city, so this is a hard question! I really love Eastern Market and the flea market that pops up every weekend. To me, there is really nothing better than strolling down the streets of Capitol Hill, getting brunch and then picking up a painting created by a local artist while listening to street performers serenade passersby with gentle Beatles ballads. I lived briefly near Eastern Market and it holds a very special place in my heart.
What do you think the LGBTQ+ community needs to improve on?
One of the strengths of the LGBTQ+ community is our diversity, the many different groups of individuals that make up the rainbow of letters in our ever-expanding acronym. The piece that we can improve is communication and connection between groups and communities within the larger community, specifically folks that have been historically marginalized and under served. We can always do better in lifting up and underscoring the voices that do not always get a chance to speak their truth, especially within our larger community.
What is your favorite Queer movie?
It’s a tossup – I love ‘To Wong Foo: Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar’ and ‘But I’m a Cheerleader.’ Both are such quirky classics.
What has been your favorite moment while working in The DC Center?
One of the most difficult weeks in my time at The DC Center was right after the horrific shooting at Pulse in Orlando. We worked around the clock with other LGBTQ+ organizations to put together an event for the community to come together, mourn, honor the victims of the shooting, and just talk about what had happened while uplifting and featuring the voices of Muslim and Latinx LGBTQ+ individuals. We had over 700 members of the community come out for this event, and the conversations that sprung from the speakers and individuals from the community knocked me sideways. There was so much love, and sadness, and anger, and wisdom, and respect in that space. It was raw and painful, but also presented all of us with a way to come together in a really intentional and important way when so many of us were hurting deeply. I’ll never forget the way I felt that evening, and how connected I was in that moment to everyone in that space. Perhaps it wasn’t my ‘favorite’ moment while working at The DC Center, but has certainly created the deepest impact and will be a moment that I will always hold with me.
What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?
I really love vintage style a-line dresses in soft, bright colors, and anything that looks vaguely 50’s and 60’s. Thrift-store shopping is my cardio.
What color would you paint the White House, given the chance?
I would paint the white house turquoise with hot pink stars. Maybe put some Hello Kitty stickers right across the front, too.
Who do you most look up to in the queer community?
I would say my queer hero is Janet Mock. I’ve seen her speak a few times in person, and read her memoir, ‘Redefining Realness,’ and think that her wisdom comes from a radical place of self-love and self-acceptance that is so inspirational and moving. I think she’s the voice of our generation, and that her wisdom pushes all of us forward.