I Am Authentic

By: Jared Sampson

No one should ever be denied basic human rights because of the color of their skin, religion, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other factor. As a southern, gay, black man; I know all about being prejudged based on not only the color of my skin, but also my sexual orientation. Dealing with discrimination because you are black… and because you are gay… puts you at odds with a number of people… including your own community. Despite a number of obstacles, I have always maintained a positive outlook on life and constantly found ways to rise above the hate. How else could I get to the top of the mountain of dreams that I had for myself? If I listened to all of the negative and hateful things said about me for one reason or another, surely my life would not be worth all the effort that I have put into it thus far.

The struggle is truly real for LGBTQ men and women of color. Dealing with multiple forms of discrimination has a profound impact on people. We can look at a number of statistics that show alarming risk factors for people of color who are also LGBTQ. It is difficult but not impossible to overcome some of the many issues that plague LGBTQ men and women of color. I am thankful that for the most part I have been able to accomplish a lot despite discrimination based on my race and sexual orientation.

It is difficult to stand up and announce your sexual orientation to your family and friends, especially when you know how people already judge you based on the color of your skin. It is even more difficult to make that announcement to world at the same time, but when I had an opportunity to do so… I took it.

In 2018, I publicly shared something that it took me 38 years to make peace with because of the discrimination I have faced over that period of time, my lifetime. To be honest, I am still making peace with myself and learning how to be authentic in a world that has been unkind to people like me. As I continue to make peace with myself, I realize that my struggle has been leading me to a place of self-love… and love for others despite the hate they give.

When I found myself in a conversation about race and sexuality that was being filmed for a television reality series, Southern Charm New Orleans, it seemed more like a responsibility than an opportunity. In that moment I had to use all the strength that I had been building from the years of carrying around the weight of the world. The same strength that got me up each morning to face a world that added to my struggles… was the same strength I used to show tell the world about my struggles. I poured out my heart and my soul and I let the world know that I am a human being who was done being afraid of being me.

It is important that more people speak out about the struggles they face. While my struggles have mostly pertained to my race and sexual orientation, there are far too many of us struggling with a number of issues. We must turn a corner on these issues centered on human rights, because we must all be free from discrimination in order to progress as one human family.

I must say that I plan to continue sharing my story in an effort to inspire others to live their best and most authentic lives. Despite my personal struggles… I have proven that nobody can define who you. We are all valuable and we must love each other despite our differences. I want to inspire others, especially college students who are a part of a generation that will make a difference and not focus on differences.