Creating an outdoor adventure outfitter by and for queer people
For Perry Cohen, the outdoors was a source of comfort, inspiration, and joy. It made him feel proud of what his body could do and where it could take him. In New Hampshire, hiking, biking, skiing, trail running, and camping were simply part of Perry’s life. Until college, he hadn’t realized that others didn’t feel as safe and comfortable in the woods as he did.
As Perry navigated his transition, he found even more comfort in the natural world and realized that he could help other queer and trans people experience the magic of the outdoors as well. Perry wanted others to feel grateful for their bodies and what they were capable of —even if just for a moment. So, in 2014, Perry Cohen traded in his corporate office for a backpack and a dream, setting out to merge his personal passion and professional aspirations by creating an outdoor adventure outfitter by and for queer people. Today, this organization is known as The Venture Out Project.
Perry initially established the Venture Out Project with the intention of leading a few backpacking trips for queer and trans people. In 2015, Perry led two trips, taking 15 people out into the woods. In 2023, The Venture Out Project is set to embark on over 50 adventures, taking upwards of 500 people out into nature.
Venture Out offers trans inclusion workshops
In addition to leading trips for LGBTQ+ people, Venture Out offers trans inclusion workshops and education for brands and organizations in the outdoor industry. In this way, The Venture Out Project not only leads trips for LGBTQ+ people but also helps others in the industry make their organizations safe and more inclusive for queer people.
When asked what surprises him most, Perry said, “I started this little non-profit with the hopes of offering a space for queer and trans folks to backpack with others who share their identity. I had no idea that we’d not only do that but also help major international brands like Eddie Bauer make their products, stores, and workplace more inclusive and affirming for LGBTQ+ people. We are not only offering trips exclusively for queer and trans people, but we are helping the industry as a whole become a more welcoming and affirming place. I had no idea that we’d actually impact an entire industry. I think this speaks so much to the leadership of the organizations that have bought in and are doing the hard work, but also to the world in general. People are ready for this. We want to see more people who look like us, represent us, and share our identities in the outdoors and beyond. I’m so proud to work in this industry and I’m honored to do what we can to make the outdoors a safe and inclusive place for queer and trans folks, but also for anyone who’s ever wanted to go outside but never thought they belonged there.”
Eddie Bauer One Outside Guide
Perry is an avid runner, biker, and backcountry skier who is Avalanche L1 certified. He’s also a lifeguard, a Wilderness First Responder, and the founder of The Venture Out Project, a non-profit organization that brings together queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ members to create community, develop leadership skills, and gain confidence through the shared experience of outdoor adventure.