2022 The LOFT's Ally Award: James Young
James (he/they) is a self-identified Queer Asian-American and is a longtime attendee and volunteer of The LOFT.
He started in 1992 by going to the Tuesday night’s men’s group when he was 17 years old. With the support of the volunteers there, James started the first LGBT youth group called “Open Doors” which later became WJCS’s Center Lane.
James later worked as the LGBT Youth Initiative Coordinator in Rockland County at CANDLE supporting high school GSAs and organizing the annual Common Threads Youth Retreat. This weekend retreat brought in students and teachers from all over the tri-state area. Some students and teachers trekked from long distances including as far as Rochester, NY.
As a volunteer of The LOFT, James has had the honor of co-facilitating the men’s group, co-training new facilitators, co-creating VegOut, a vegan potluck group and co-hosting Westchester Pride in 2020 and then performing in 2022.
James has also been a social sciences professor for over a decade at Monroe College and has left an indelible queer affirming mark college-wide. With their efforts, Monroe instituted gender-neutral bathrooms on all campus buildings, added pronouns to email signatures coupled with trainings on using affirming language, and marched in the Heritage of Pride March in 2016. The College now also offers a course in Introduction to LGBTQIA+ History and is implementing an optional pronoun feature in their admissions department.
In 2018, James co-founded Queery, an art-based violence prevention and education non-profit aimed to make queer theory more accessible and fun. Since then, they have launched several campaigns and fundraisers to support queer joy and liberation. Over the last few years, they have raised several thousands of dollars to support LGBTQIA+ organizations including the Ali Forney Center, SPARTA, Minority Veterans of America, and The LOFT’s TransMission scholarship program. James also facilitates weekly programs which are a collaboration between Queery and The LOFT including CALM/Queer Zen Meditation sessions and Queer Community Book Club (QCBC) where community connects around discussions about queer literature.
James is also fortunate enough to serve on the Westchester County LGBTQ Advisory Board for the last few years. While there, the County Executive has introduced himself with pronouns at press conferences, added pronouns to his emails and has made queerness more visible through events (co-sponsored with The LOFT) like the TDOV (Transgender Day of Visibility) press conference in 2021 and the ongoing usage of the County Center Panels showing LGBTQIA+ support and affirmations around Pride Month and other important dates.
And most recently, James started writing, recording and producing queer-informed music and performing them as I.Den.t.T at various Pride events in 2022.
However, the most important contribution James has made to the queer community is simply living bravely and loving boldly as a queer person with their queer family. James is so grateful that Blair chose them to adopt him and Jeff agreed to share their life together.
2022 Edie Windsor &Thea Spyer Equality Award: New York State Assemblymember Amy Paulin
Assemblymember Amy Paulin has served the 88th New York State Assembly District (Scarsdale, Eastchester, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Pelham, Pelham Manor, and parts of New Rochelle and White Plains) since 2001. She chairs the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, and serves on the Committees on Rules, Education, and Health.
A full-time legislator, Assemblymember Paulin annually ranks among the state’s most productive and successful lawmakers and to date has had more than 200 of her bills signed into law.
Assemblymember Paulin has a long record of passing LGBTQ legislation. One highlight is her success this year in passing a bill repealing the ‘Loitering for the Purposes of Prostitution’ law, also called the “Walking While Trans” bill. The law’s vagueness had allowed the police wide discretion for enforcement, with trans women of color disproportionately arrested under this law. The repeal was an historic win that pushed back against the criminalization of and systemic violence perpetrated on the TGNC/NB community for over four decades, with far-reaching impacts on housing, employment, parental rights, and daily life.
Another highlight is the gestational surrogacy bill she passed in 2020 which went into effect this year. Pursuant to this law New York State now allows compensated gestational surrogacy agreements and provides certainty as to the legal parentage of children born through surrogacy. The law removed obstacles which for years have impeded same-sex couples from starting families. The law also allows families to avoid having to travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs, simply because they want to be parents.
Most recently she has authored a bill requiring the Department of Labor to conduct a study on the employment rate of transgender persons in New York. The legislation aims to study the employment barriers for transgender individuals and ultimately, provide legislative remedies.
Assemblymember Paulin was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, holds a Master’s Degree, and has completed doctoral course work in Criminal Justice from SUNY-Albany. For over thirty years she and her husband, Ira Schuman, have lived in Scarsdale, where they raised their children Beth, Sarah, and Joey.
2022 Business/Community Ally Award: The Leonard-Litz LGBTQ Foundation
Helping LGBTQ+ people fulfill their potential, the Leonard-Litz Foundation’s mission is to fund organizations which advance the interests and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community through advocacy, programs, and services that meet the needs of LGBTQ+ people.
The Leonard-Litz Foundation supports partner organizations that are improving the lives of the LGBTQ+ community through life-affirming services. The Organization began supporting The LOFT early on during the pandemic. Their support was critical in allowing The LOFT to expand its array of digital services including virtual support groups and services, pride vaccination clinics and the creation of "Call To Action" a region wide LGBTQ+ coalition fostering community engagement and advocacy.
This award recognizes both founders, Mr. Elliot Leonard and Mr. Roger Litz.
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