Personal Story

Feature Issue on Sexuality and Gender Identity for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

Love Scene:
Theater Brought Us Together


Sam Videen and Jule Moench are performing artists with Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts ( They live in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

We started as friends when Jule joined Interact in April of 2017, and we started dating on September 7 of 2018, so we just had our 5-year anniversary.

Our relationship makes me (Sam) feel more “whole” as a person, and Jule also is helping me to be more patient.

I (Jule) feel the same way about feeling more complete because of this relationship. Sam makes me feel more like me; more like my whole self. I have some auditory processing issues, and Sam helps me understand things. Sometimes I have to remind him to be patient as I process thoughts.

Neither of us dated much before this relationship. When I (Sam) was a senior in high school I started feeling attracted to guys and came out more after I joined Interact. There, I could dress more like a girl for performances, and that is part of my identity off stage as well. I’m also gay.

Two actors rehearse a play on a stage in front of a brown stone wall. One of them sits in a chair in front of a mock fire, while the other, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, stands behind with outstretched arms.

Moench (front) and Videen rehearse a scene for Interact Theater Company’s production of “Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here...Again!”

And I (Jule) am kind of the opposite. I was born a girl but wanted to be a man, fully. When I was only 3, I thought of myself as a boy and I am transgender. I thought of Sam as a girl at first because that is how he was dressed, and I fell in love.

We had to go for more than a year during the pandemic without seeing each other in person. We kept in touch virtually through video chats, but it was really hard. We still live separately, but we are enjoying going out on dates again and working together at Interact. We love singing together and dressing up for holiday parties.

Neither of us can remember any sex education classes in school, and we wished there had been some support there. We hear about a lot of kids being bullied for being gay or transgender and we can relate to that. Kids in school didn’t understand why we dressed the way we did. It was really hard.

Even today, sometimes people don’t like the way we dress and they say things that make us feel bad. Other times, we get compliments. It’s still hard not to get hurt by the negative comments. We take deep breaths and talk it out. It also helps to have a community like the one we have with our fellow Interact cast members. I (Sam) have come to realize that [someone else’s] negativity doesn’t make me a bad person. And I (Jule) have found it helps to express myself and my identity on social media.

The most important thing is that we love each other and will always be in each other’s lives.

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