A GoPride Interview

Sam Cushing

Sam Cushing Is Taking Over!

Thu. January 30, 2020  by GoPride.com

I can use this ‘influence’ to be a positive light and to leave an impact in society.
Sam Cushing

Content creator has amassed 32k YouTube followers, and is growing

In October of 2019, popular Instagramer, Sam Cushing decided to extend his presence to YouTube. In that short time, the Chicago born content creator has amassed 32,000+ followers and climbing.

Yet, there is more to this twenty-seven-year-old young man than meets the eye. His remarkable relationship with his Mom, for one, puts Sam in a place of adoration among his followers. His ability to play the piano and speak fluent Spanish, have also caught the eye of folks, looking to go beyond his good looks.

GoPride.com's Bill Pritchard spent time recently getting to know Sam.

GP: What does being an influencer mean to you and are you one?

Sam: Well it's a label that some put on me, but I'd like to like to consider myself more than that. I have a degree in marketing, a background in consulting, and a creative mindset. I'm also a pianist, songwriter, fitness fanatic, friend, son, brother, lover. The term "influencer", at least in today's context, feels like I'm being reduced to something that doesn't represent fully who I am. 

Being an 'influencer' was never the goal... the goal has always been to share parts of my life, document my travel, and fitness. The rest has simply been a bi-product. (not that I can complain about working with brands and being paid to promote products I love!)   What I really hope is that I can use this ‘influence’ to be a positive light and to leave an impact in society. 

GP: Chicago is your home, but you've lived abroad for a bit too. Tell us about that and what that experience did for you?

Sam: I've lived in 7 different cities in the past 7 years, which is pretty wild when I reflect back on that. Specifically, my experience in South America, where I spent the past two years, was really a game changer. I moved down there without any fluency in Spanish, having never been there before, and with only a few hundred dollars and a suitcase. I didn't even know anybody!

To answer your question, I don't think that my core has really ever changed, but I certainly learned a lot about myself. First and foremost, I'm proud that I can say I took the leap of faith and did what I did. I set a goal and proved to myself I could do it.  The experience taught me how to love; (first serious relationship) taught me a new language; it taught me the importance of family/relationships, and it showed me gratitude. 

GP: You started a YouTube channel a few months ago, and are already up to 32k+ subscribers. How did that happen so quickly and where would you like to see that go?

Sam: I have to say... YouTube is HARD work. It's nothing like Instagram, where you can take a few photos, slap a filter on, and be done with it. I spend a good 20-30 hours on one video alone between filming editing and rework. I create one every week. 

With YouTube, I finally have a voice that I didn't on Instagram, albeit a bit of a polarizing one, as many say I sound "too gay", "too deep", or "too vocally fried". It's funny because for years I think people build an image based solely on photos of what they want you to be, and how they want you to sound/act, so it's a bit of a shock for some to hear that I might have a working mind and personality behind those photos.

I think now, however, a few months in, and my audience seems to appreciate my desire for authenticity. I hope!

GP: You've been doing collaborations with other YouTuber's. How did you make that happen?

Sam: Reaching out. Smiles

GP: You share a lot about your devotion to your Mom. How has that relationship impacted your relationships with others?

Sam: She's really wonderful. She deserves her own fan page, truly. She's been such an LGBTQ champion for me through and through and it's her opinion that I take most seriously when confronted with sticky situations in life. 

GP: When did you come out? How was that experience for you?

Sam: I came out when I was 15. I talk about it in one of my YouTube posts. It was scary and liberating at the same time. I thankfully was quite blessed, in that aside from a few bullying encounters back in high school, my family and friends were all very supportive of me. I'm so grateful, because I'm fully aware that this wasn't the case for everybody and their coming out stories. 

GP: In a recent Instagram video, you were in an UberPool, which brought questions as to what you do for a living?  What are people's misconceptions of you? What is something you wish people knew about you, that they often get wrong?

Sam: It goes back to my comment earlier, people like to paint a picture of people on social media in a certain way. I posted that story to burst the bubble on artifice, and to continue showing some authenticity, which can be hard to find on social media. My point was that I don't think I'm above UberPool (It's better for the environment, and it's thrifty) and nor should anyone else.  I often hear people make comments about either being privileged/rich, or being poor and uber-pooling, and I just think the whole thing is ridiculous. There are more important topics in life right now. 

Regarding the 2nd part of your question, I work hard and always have. After graduating Cum Laude with a dual degree in Marketing and Operations from the University of Illinois, I went on to explore a career in consulting at PwC in New York; working with some of the biggest retail and consumer brands that exist, on their customer experience and digital strategies. After deciding I wanted to gain international perspective, explore new cultures, and to become bilingual (I'm now fluent in Spanish), I took a leap of faith to moved to South America where I found work at a digital tech start up, and was soon promoted to run an office of engineers out of Medellin, Colombia (all in Spanish). 

I'm really proud of my professional past, but I chose to leave the corporate world behind for the time being to pursue my own brand-building dream. I’m currently working tirelessly on several endeavors (A product, digital presence, etc.). And yes, in the process, I'm being quite frugal financially... but I think making sacrifices today will pay off in the long-term. I'm excited to announce something very soon. 

GP: What would you like to see happen for the LGBTQ community?

Sam: I know there tends to be a lot of mixed feelings about our community, from within it, but I truly love our community. I attribute so many of the experiences and opportunities that I've had to the LGBTQ community, and now at 27, am ready to give back to it!

Without being too preachy, I would like to see less judgement within the community and more love. Although we all come from different backgrounds, we are all bonded through adversity in being LGBTQ - it's why I made a video on early gay experiences, to remind folks of this, in a playful way. 

GP: Recently you partnered with your subscribers to donate funds to the Trevor Project. What is your drive when it comes to community?

Sam: I'm worried that society has cast aside LGBTQ issues as something of the decade prior, when I still see a lot of persisting problems. There is a lot of incredible work being done (especially in reaction to the current political climate), but there is still much work to do, and I want to be a part of that continued momentum.  Being invited in to visit the Trevor Project office, after the donation I made and social media campaign I ran, was truly an honor. 

I come from a broken family, and really struggled in my younger years (and candidly still do) with anxiety and depression. That's probably why you can find me at my piano often writing music, as a form of self-care. I think this is why I can relate and empathize with LGBTQ youth who are struggling. I know how isolating things can be. This is also why I did a partnership with the Boystown National Crisis Hotline, to help spread the message around self-love and self-care as a means of protecting ones mental health. 

Interviewed by GoPride.com

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