Sam Penix

#UNFILTERED is a video series featuring New Yorkers. Nothing is rehearsed, all we ask is that they're real.

Open up the door to Everyman Espresso, a small-ish coffee shop in the East Village, and you're bowled over by chatter. Small tables give way to engaged conversations between artists, parents, young entrepreneurs, and the occasional celebrity. On this day, a couple of NYU students are small-talking about pop news, while a barista and a cafe regular jump from topics of race, to Drag Race, and then on to identity politics. It might be the coffee, or just this particular community, but everyone at Everyman seems literally, and figuratively, woke.

The owner, Sam Penix, a trans man, has crafted the shop's community so that it mirrors his own: Progressive, inclusive, and multi-cultural. "Everyman is good at queering it up," Penix told me. "It's good at being a safe space for people of color and, specifically, a safe space for people that perhaps are walking around in the world, feeling like they just don't really belong...it just feels free."

Freedom to be oneself is personal to Penix. He transitioned from female to male in 2010, because he began to feel "oppressed" living in a body that did not match how he felt inside. His friends were supportive, and his mom was understanding. "She said 'so what you're telling me is that I'm going to have a son and not a daughter? OK,'" Penix explained, shrugging his shoulders.

It's that same laissez-faire approach that the 30 year-old brings to the shop's customers, each one from a different walk of life. And it's that ethos - some might call it a New York state of mind, or even a generational one - that has pushed the trans conversation forward, globally, in the last six months....often around coffee tables like the ones here at Everyman.

Watch our latest #Unfiltered spot with Sam Penix below:


Nov 4, 2015


Swagger NYC