Sampson headlines Pride event featuring artists of color.
By Don Maines
The truth heals, says entertainer Sampson, whose “no BS” comedic testimony will spark “Feel My Pride Too!” in Houston on June 15.
The internationally known comedian, whose full name is Sampson McCormick, will perform a 45-minute set (alongside nine local artists) at an LGBTQ Pride Month event hosted by the T.R.U.T.H. Project, which stands for Telling Real Unapologetic Truth Through Healing.
Sampson tells OutSmart he “got to see some of everything” while growing up in Washington DC.
“We were never taught that white people hated us,” he says. “The people aren’t the ones who profit from that rhetoric; politicians do. Sure, I believe that racism and homophobia exist; it’s not a fairy tale, and I will call out injustice, but I am open-minded. I believe that we need to drop the politically correct pretenses and get back to talking to each other and laughing together about what is going on. When you laugh, you breathe, your guards drop, and we can really have conversations about things that otherwise would be uncomfortable.”
For almost 20 years, Sampson says, he’s developed a cult-like following, “literally working the smallest of stages in coffee shops, STD clinics, gas stations, and apartment kitchens.” But he’s also hosted an online talk show that endeared him to viewers, starred in an off-Broadway show, and became the first African-American, openly LGBTQ male comic to headline at his home town’s historic Howard Theater. Sampson plans to record his fourth stand-up comedy act later this year.
In a 2012 video on his website, SampsonComedy.com, Sampson riffed about how he hoped President Obama’s second term would be “black as shit.”
“I want to see Michelle Obama come out of the White House with her hair in curlers and a bathrobe on, okay?” he said. “I want to see that grandmama with a switch, whipping ass in their front yard, okay?”
Sampson tells OutSmart he was “highly disappointed” that, in her husband’s second term as president, Michelle Obama kept getting her hair pressed and eating baked chicken. But that was still better than the new administration. “I didn’t fear going to sleep at night,” he says. “I wasn’t afraid of losing my rights. The way things are now, people are terrified.”
In another video, Sampson pokes fun at the type of “Church of God in Christ Pentecostal Apostolic, turn some furniture over, swing around on the chandelier” Sunday services he used to experience when visiting relatives in North Carolina. He lampoons a spirit-filled evangelical traipsing across the stage and warning, “There’s a homosexual demon in here. We’re going to cast it out.”
While race, religion, and other “issues of the day” comprise Sampson’s usual set, he’s recently added his ex-boyfriend of five-and-a-half years to the roast.
“He lost one of the best things he ever had,” Sampson says. “He really messed up. So I talk about his farting. It was his secret weapon.”
Sampson looks forward to “Feel My Pride Too!” unfolding as “a very community-affirming event” that nurtures health, wellness, and spirituality.
“I think that we are some amazing people, in all the different ways that God made us and sent us here, but we cannot be passive about the suffering and injustices experienced by fellow human beings,” he says. “If we truly believe that, we have an obligation to fight for each other, and most of all, love each other and celebrate our differences by taking action for causes that will create justice and equality for ourselves as brothers and sisters.”
Other performers at “Feel My Pride Too!” will be India Monee, Rayla Crawford, James Just, Ryan McMasters, Dannell Jamerson, Brittany Jones, Brenden Winkfield, Erica Nicole, and Sir Preston.
They were chosen in April during auditions for spoken-word artists, singers, dancers, and visual artists, according to Kevin Anderson, founder and CEO of the T.R.U.T.H. Project. Anderson invited Sampson to Houston with financial support from Bunnies on the Bayou.
“His presence at this installment and his form of storytelling will make it a richer experience,” Anderson says. “A lot will be revealed.
“In recognition of National Pride Month, our voices will be heard,” he adds. “This installment will feature people of color presenting what Pride means to them. Stigma reduction is always an important goal, bringing a broader sense of awareness to all walks of life. My hope is always that healing will come through dialogue as you go grab a bite to eat afterwards, or over cocktails the next day.”
What: Feel My Pride Too!
When: 7 p.m., June 15
Where: Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston, 3400 Main St.
More info: TruthProjectHTX.org
This article appears in the June 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.