Sam(ira) Obeid identifies as a masculine performing Indian lesbian immigrant who was raised Hindu on her mother’s side of the family and Muslim on her father’s side. Moving to the US in 2007 to pursue a Master’s degree, Sam travelled the struggle of both her gender identity and sexuality by herself for fear of how she would be received in India and abroad. In 2010, she wrote a play detailing the internal conflict that Indian graduate students go through of which one character identified as gay. This conversation held at the University of South Florida was a first of its kind for many communities and traces her first steps as being visibly and intentionally queer to the world beyond herself.
Over the next 4 years, she used her platform as a student to present transnational research on LGBTQ+ policy and its effects on LGBTQ+ immigrants at national conferences such as the National Women’s Studies Association conference. She also presented for 2 consecutive years at the Florida Collegiate Pride Coalition on the lack of access and language to LGBTQ+ resources on campus for international students with recommendations for constructive, tangible change.
Since graduating with a Master’s in Multimedia Journalism and a Master’s in Women’s & Gender Studies, Sam has become a recognized social justice activist in the Tampa Bay community, an internationally renowned spoken word poet and Program Director of Community Tampa Bay, a non-profit youth leadership organization whose vision is a community free from all forms of discrimination. Sam incorporates the experience of being a third world masculine lesbian in all of her creative work to ensure that others who have similar experiences do not feel isolated in who they are. She is regularly asked to share words at rallies and protests to encourage humans to continue the fight toward justice despite the dire circumstances we currently live in.
In working with high school youth, Sam is authentic and deliberate in sharing her experiences as a young human and believes that our teens must unconditionally be shown that they are being seen and heard without ever having to validate their own identities or experience.
Sam is particular about dialogue around LGBTQ+ identities being intersectional and centered around marginalized identities. She speaks clearly and loudly to the various ways in which all of our identities inform the other. Sam has given the keynote at multiple LGBTQ+ events including Metro Wellness’ Youth Summit and USF’s first LGBTQ+ Gala. She has performed spoken word at Equality Florida’s Tampa Gala and has given a TEDx Talk on deconstructing gender and gender identity. Most recently, having been forced to leave the country in 2018, she used this terrifying experience to educate (via social media) and advocate for immigration rights.