As an organization with a mission to give marginalized youth a seat at the table of democracy, Georgia Shift aims to build relationships with a variety of individuals. In many efforts to understand the local community and our audience’s needs, we want to hear your stories. For the month of June, we want to highlight Samira “Sam” Pilgreen, our new Field Event Fellow.

            Sam was born in Spain, but has spent majority of their life in Atlanta, GA. Currently, they are studying at Augusta University (AU), pursuing a Bachelors of Art in Communications degree.  At AU, Sam stands as the president of the LAMBDA Alliance, the university’s gay-straight alliance. This organization “makes an effort to promote equality, increase gender/sexuality minority awareness, and disperse information on LGBTQ+ issues that affect communities.” In addition, Sam currently works as the Field Event Fellow here at Georgia Shift. They hope to raise voter turnout in the Augusta area, but mostly want to bring awareness of helpful resources to the local LGBTQ+ community. 

  • Why is civic engagement important to you?

“The biggest reason is reaching out to those who feel excluded or feel that there isn’t someone on a grander scale that can help them with their personal issues. It’s also about helping those who aren’t actively engaging in civic duty realize that there’s someone in their same demographic who is trying to make a difference on a larger scale. A lot of LGBTQ+ people are sometimes told that because of who they are, they won’t succeed. Therefore, seeing someone else within their community achieve the things they wish they could gives them the courage to try. Representation matters and it shows that their goals are attainable.” 

  • What are some issues in your community that concern you? 

“Specifically in the black community, I would want to make it apparent that LGBTQ+ individuals go through the same discrimination we fought so hard against. It’s not right as black people to treat anybody differently, especially when our ancestors advocated for equal rights for not only us, but everyone. Ultimately, we shouldn’t treat anyone differently because we know what it’s like to be treated unfairly. It kind of makes us hypocritical.”

  • What are some issues you wish could be addressed?

“In our local school system, I’m aware that some faculty/staff openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ students. In order to give these students a healthy environment to grow, I don’t believe that these people should be working with children. There needs to be more safe spaces in Augusta. Period.”

  • Why is Pride important to you?

“Going to a Pride festival for the first time was a miraculous experience. I got to meet people that were just like me and I felt a lot less alone, in such a judgmental world. Pride is one of those things that’s needed to bring a community together and to reach out to those who don’t know we are here. I would hope that pride instills more bravery in all LGBTQ+ individuals young and old. The way that we love should not be criticized and we should be proud to love who we love.”

  • Why is your blackness important in your identity in the LGBTQ+ community?

“The more I speak out as a black LGBTQ+ person, the more apparent our existence is. Someone has to speak out against our own ignorance [in the black community]. I’m willing to make myself vulnerable, to show that you can be black and queer, and that’s okay.” 

  • What’s one thing you want people to know about you?

“I am a non-binary, pansexual, polyamorous, black individual and I exist.”

Georgia Shift wants to thank Sam for sharing their story with us. We look forward to working with them!