JD Samson on playing Occupy Wall Street and representing for the queer community


AE: The New York protests, from what I could tell, were peaceful but it seems like from the news there were occupiers in Seattle who were busting out windows and reeking havoc. To me it seems like the movement is so large makes it very difficult to get the right points across. There are so many anti-occupy folks that are pretty much only taking the violent acts with them and it’s hard to argue with them with these kids who are breaking shit or making a statement that’s worthy of listening to. How do you think the movement can come together? Do you think it’s possible to get one big message across?
JS: I think one of the things in the infrastructure of the occupy movement because there is both a positive and a negative being that there is no real person in charge and no real hierarchy of position which is kind of a really amazing way to do this which is to say we’re all together on this. We are the 99 percent and I think that’s the most powerful thing about the occupy movement that we’re all equal here and we’re all going to figure out how to do this together. But I do think at time it’s been its back fall. There are some people that get out of hand and in meetings sometimes it’s difficult to be clear about what’s going to happen and things like that. That’s what happens with any society. There is always some sort of mass confusion. If you think about occupy as in the long term this is still the beginning even though it’s been happening for eight or nine months or however long on the streets I think it could still be growing more and more.

AE: I would agree. Things are just not happening yet and since this is an election year I’m just terrified of what our country could look like next year.
JS: Yeah, it’s interesting how the seasons have sort of shifted the movement. So much of it is about being outside and getting on the streets and taking over spaces and things like that and being that the winter has come and gone I think that it’s time to reignite the fire. Yesterday for me it was really great to get a visual of how many people are still there and ready to fight. There were 15,000 people yesterday.

AE: The way that you describe it actually brought to mind the Pride parade with the marches. There must be a sense of pride of being together and marching against something that is bigger than yourself. Your new song “Make Him Pay” is a total jam. I’ve actually posted it on my blog last week and since then I’ve heard a few remixes. There is something interesting about dancing to a song that has such a political message behind it and thinking about the lyrics there seems to be some kind of sadness attached to it. I read in one of your tweets recently that it seems like you’re not being taken seriously based on your appearance, I can totally get that in a different body, what I think is really interesting is that you have always really just been pretty fearless about just not conforming and just being who you are and I would think that now the world at least in some areas would be more accepting place than it has been when you were first starting out so how do you feel it has changed, if at all, over the years?
JS: Let’s be honest — so much has happened and we’ve had a complete gender revolution, at least the beginning of one in the last 10 years. I feel very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time in the fact that I was supported and kind of put on a pedestal for being gender queer. It’s been really lucky for me and really helpful for a lot of other people to even just see my face in magazines or on stage and I think that’s part of my activism just being alive and visible in the world so people can feel like they have the freedom to look however they want. That’s been really awesome and obviously there are always a couple people who are not going to understand.

I think for me the biggest thing is I tend to pass as a young boy, you know? And that’s like a complicated thing because you don’t really know if people are being condescending to you because they think you’re a young boy or if you’re gender queer or what it is. I would just say that it’s hard to live in a body that’s different from everyone else — or, not everyone else but a lot of other people. Sometimes I walk down the street and I feel a sense that I’m still a freak and I think it’s something that I’ll always deal with because of my history and feeling oppressed for many reasons. One thing I’ve thought about a lot recently is promoting confidence. I feel like as a teenager I didn’t have that and I wish I could help other young queer kids and gender-queers and women learn how to feel good about themselves. I always come back to that as the reason I may still effected by what people say to me, you know?

AE: Well it’s hard not to, especially if you — and I could be putting words in your mouth here — but it kind of seems like you carry a lot of the weight of other kids going through your experiences, on your shoulders. And so you’re trying to be positive for them but it’s difficult because sometimes you need someone to be positive there for you.
JS: Yeah. Yeah!

AE: I totally could have just pulled that out of my ass. But it does seem to me like anybody who’s in a position of kind of needing to be the voice of a particular group —
JS: Yeah, and I think it’s been important for me to take on that role. You know, I think if I wasn’t repeating comments from people like, “You helped me be who I am. You saved me,” or, “I never had the confidence to do this until I heard your music or read your article,” or whatever — and I think that that’s what keeps me going in my own life and to continue to be there for other people.

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