Meet The Queer Community
Book Club (QCBC) Facilitation Team!
Names & Pronouns:
James Young (he/him or they/them)
Blair Perryman (he/him or they/them)
Elias VanDette (he/him or they/them)
Kerry Manzo (he/him)
Where did you grow up/Where do you live now?
James grew up in Westchester, and now lives in White Plains and soon to be the Bronx.
Blair grew up throughout the Midwest and the East Coast. Blair now lives in the Bronx.
Elias grew up in Westchester and now lives near NJ.
Kerry lives in Texas now, and hopes to move back to Westchester later this year!
James' hobbies are dancing at the Big Apple Ranch in NYC and Salsa Night at Feathers in NJ, Parenting, Reading Queer Books, building and participating in queer communities, Queery, QCBC, CALM/Queer Zen, OUTWalking, Meditating, and Professional Dim Sum Dinner!
Blair's hobbies are video games, hiking, and going to the gym.
Elias' hobbies are art, houseplants, reading, and video games.
Kerry's hobbies are reading and talking about books, especially queer books.
Why volunteer at The LOFT?
James - "I get to connect with others, which really helps me better connect with myself! Also, I get to continue to explore and expand my understanding of self, gender, sexuality, and connections."
Blair - "I always knew of the loft, but I never knew who or what the loft entailed. Until I met my fathers showed me more about 6-7 years ago. I think my answer to Why volunteer? would be Why not?! Volunteering is something that builds good karma in your life, if you believe in that kind of thing. You could get something out of it that you may not expect, like a heightened sense of community through their groups, fun, love, and connections."
Elias - "The LOFT has supported me through the many phases of coming out and discovering myself. The support I received at The LOFT helped me get through a very difficult time in my life. The connections I made in the community helped me to find my authentic self in a space that felt safe. I volunteer at The LOFT so that I can give back and pay forward the kindness that I received at a crucial time in my life. Giving back to my community has fed my soul in a way I have yet to fully understand."
Kerry - "I found out about The LOFT a few years ago. I was moving from Texas to NY to take a job at Purchase College as a Literature professor. As a trans-masculine person coming from Texas where we’re not really safe in our housing and employment, I wanted to reach out to folx in westchester who could support me and let me know about laws and security for myself moving across the country. That's how I initially became involved with the loft and I started going to the trans support group because I was in an unfamiliar environment and figuring out how to navigate just the basic stuff of being trans in a new state. Then the pandemic hit and everything went online and I was separated from all of those face to face support groups for a while. In the summer or fall after that, I joined OUTWalking because I need to see human beings."
What has your volunteering experience been like at The LOFT?
James participates in a wide range of LOFT groups; Men's Group, Youth Groups run by Center Lane, LOFT Tech Talks & VegOut (on Hiatus), Pride events, CALM/Queer Zen, and of course QCBC!
Blair's first volunteer experience was with The LOFT's 20-Somethings group. "I got to meet a lot of new people and since then I’ve been volunteering through various things that the loft offers." Blair now facilitates QCBC and LGBTQ+ Rock Climbing!
Elias' experience with The LOFT has been one of healing, and they believe that deep healing can come from a community space. "I think we have a wonderful community and I would love to continue to foster that genuine care for the community in all of our volunteers, i think that’s really important."
Kerry - "OUTWalking brought me back into The LOFT community, and when James started QCBC I was like right onboard as a Literature professor. I love and teach global queer lit and being here with a group of people who are interested in reading what I’m really passionate about - it doesn't even feel like volunteering. I’m just coming to do what I love doing every Saturday!"
Would you rather vacation on the mountains or near a beach?
James prefers the mountains! They recently had the joy of visiting El Paso and enjoyed the mountains with family and friends.
Blair - Mountains!
Elias would prefer to hide away in an enchanted forest!
Kerry prefers the mountains of the Southwest, definitely. "Better camping, hiking, and fewer people."
Favorite Book/TV Show?
James - The Macho Paradox, by Jackson Katz (book) and My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (TV Show)
Blair - Rowan of Rin, By Jennifer Rowe (book) and True Blood (TV Show)
Elias - Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, by S. Bear Bergman and Kate Bornstein (book) and Our Flag Means Death (TV Show)
Kerry - Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
James - Grey
Blair - Green
Elias - Teal Blue and Mustard Yellow
Kerry - Green
Any Words To Live By?
James - "It's all about connections! Connection to self and to others"
Blair - “Each day provides new opportunities”
Elias - "The journey to self-discovery doesn't need an endpoint"
Kerry - "Those who have the energy and will to survive at the crossroads become really very exceptional people.” -Chinua Achebe