The death of Samantha Dorsett came as a terrible loss to all of her friends in the queer and trans- community, the punk community, and the anti-war movement; also to the clerk at the South Berkeley post office, the waitress at the Vietnamese restraurant, and to all of us on the Slingshot staff. Her life (and death) touched many, including those she had never met, who knew Samantha only through her creative and institution-building work.
In the 90s, in Bloomington, Indiana, Samantha founded Plan-it-X Records and the Secret Sailor bookstore (now Boxcar Books), both of which continue to thrive today. She published a fanzine, Strap Yourself In. After touring with her puppet troupe and several bands, she moved to Pensacola, Florida, where she worked tirelessly to organize protests (and a culture of resistance) against the war in Iraq. She also staffed Subterranean Books, and packed orders for the local Books Through Bars program.
Samantha came to the Bay Area next (“settled” was never the right word for Sam) and was actively involved at the San Jose Peace Center, the Long Haul, and the Book Zoo. She continued to write articles, fanzines, poetry chapbooks, broadsides, and a novel (“Troubled Sleep”) under her own name and several pseudonyms. One of her final published pieces, about the Women’s Choice clinic, was on the cover of the last Slingshot.
Plagued by physical and mental ailments, unable to overcome or escape from the scars of her difficult life, and unable to find a dignified, fulfilling place either in the larger society or in the alternative communities she’d help foster, Samantha took her own life in June 2009.
She was a sweetheart, a troublemaker, a rabble rouser, a scholar, a lover of bunnies, and more. We will miss her always.