Meet our Volunteer: Jess Mancuso
Published: 30 November 2016 Tags: lgbt, volunteer, womens programme By John Walding
My name is Jess and I became involved with the LGBT Foundation’s Women’s Programme in 2015.
I moved from New York to Manchester to do a MA in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. I was really enjoying the city and felt welcomed. But at the same time, I felt isolated and not overly connected to any social group. Then I found the LGBT Foundation which promotes positivity, acceptance and celebration of the LGBT community. Immediately I knew I wanted to get involved and hopefully meet people aligned with the foundation’s views.
I began attending the women support groups, Carousel and Stepping Stones, and found people very open, friendly and providing great conversations. Soon after I volunteered for the Women’s Programme Advisory Panel. Our group discusses and organises programme events, how the women’s programme succeeds, as well as how it can be improved.
My first meeting with the panel helped inspire my MA Social Anthropology dissertation. I wanted to work with self-identified lesbians in Manchester to understand how we choose, or do not choose, to visually signify Sapphism and in what ways does this impact where and who we socialize with. The LGBT Foundation is what connected me to a lot of my interviews and survey participants for my dissertation. I want to thank everyone who helped and supported my research. This positive experience guided me find my passion, grow to love Manchester and become connected to the community I now call home.
Currently I am still at university in my first year of the Sociology PhD. I am continuing to work with the lesbian community in Manchester by focusing on Sapphic space scarcity. I want to ask why women-only spaces are considered rare and invisible in Manchester’s LGBT community. To do so I am looking at women-only spaces in the commercial scene (the Village) and the non-commercial scenes (LGBT Foundation, sport groups, etc.). I hope to further investigate this topic and contribute to the discussion around lesbian culture.
The LGBT Foundation and the Women’s Programme inspired my current academic work, and that inspiration guided me to realizations about who I am and how I want to orientate future aspirations in my career and more importantly in my life. I hope by continuing to volunteer and being a part of the LGBT Foundation I can give back to the community and help others in the ways the foundation has helped me.
Thanks for reading,