He only spent two hours in the pumps, but it was enough to change the life of a young stranger.
Samuel Brinton, 26, walks through the halls of Congress in high heels. He walks through the United Nations in high heels. He even wears them to the Gay Men’s Chorus in Washington DC. But it was his choice to wear his pumps to dinner with his boyfriend at Walt Disney World in Florida that had an unexpected impact on one little boy who saw more than just his stilettos.
Brinton works in Washington DC as a Senior Policy Analyst. He has a degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
But more than that he is an activist, working with the #BornPerfect campaign; an organization that wants to end conversion therapy, something of which he is a survivor.
He recently posted a picture of his June 4 visit to the Magic Kingdom; a selfie of him in front of the Epcot Center wearing a pair of polka dot, black-and-white Two Lips brand high heels. Little did he know a young gay child would see him that day and become empowered by his presence.
San Diego Gay and Lesbian News reached out to Brinton to discuss what exactly happened on that day, and why in the world he would wear a pair of heels through the vast walkways at Disney World.
“I find them an empowering accessory,” he said. “and when my boyfriend, Kevin, and I decided to go to dinner with friends I thought it would be a great chance to wear heels since it wouldn't be hours upon hours at a theme park - it was still quite the walk though.”
Brinton says he was only in the heels for about two hours, but it was in that time that a young boy saw him and was profoundly moved. So much so that the child’s mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote this letter to Brinton afterwards:
“When my gay son saw you walk by he just sat down and started to cry a little, I was so confused! But then he whimpered ‘It’s true, Mom. WE can be our own princess here.’ And I just started crying too and realized you made my son’s dream come true. – A Mom.”
Out of the thousands of people at the park, Brinton was in awe that the mother actually tracked him down, ”I'm very public with my life and so she must have just seen a friend's like or comment on the original photo. Crazy coincidence.” Brinton adds.
Although the actual age of the child is unknown, Brinton says he is very young and wishes to remain anonymous.
I asked Brinton if he heard something derogatory from any of the other thousands of people who were at the park that day, “Honestly no. I was holding Kevin's hand since I got nervous - which doesn't happen often - but all I heard were a few very, very kind comments from staff and park-goers.”
After he posted the selfie on Facebook, people began to feel empathy for him thinking that he spent all day in the stilettos, Brinton says that wasn't the case.
"I have over 50 pairs of heels," he laughs. "I'd never ruin them or my feet on a full day at a theme park."
The above excerpt from the letter is only a portion of a much longer sentiment from the mother that he wishes to keep private, however Brinton decided to share her closing remarks with us:
"My son had seen Disney character after Disney character, each bringing a smile. YOU, however, brought tears of inspiration and hope. That's more than a mom could ever hope to give her son on a family day at a theme park. Thank you, Sam."
When it comes to how Brinton felt about getting the letter from the mother, he says he is honored and calls back to his work with the #BornPerfect campaign. He says he is trying to end conversion therapy so nobody ever has to go through it again.
If he has inspired this mother and her child in any way, he has done three things: brought empowerment to others by being empowered, helped a child embrace who he really is, and helped a mother to understand her gay child a little bit more.
Samuel Brinton won't tell you he is a hero. He won't take any credit for changing, possibly saving, this child's life. He won't even think this story is newsworthy with all of the other things going on in the world.
But he would be wrong. Whether he agrees or not, people will look to him as an inspiration; someone who took a chance and made a difference.
He is changing the lives around him one step at a time.