It's 2:00 a.m. here in Chicago (it was when I started writing but was too tired to finish!), and although my soft fluffy hotel bed with 6 pillows looks so inviting right now, I want to share a few highlights from the first night of the NQAPIA summit. After checking in at the Majestic Hotel (fabulous name), some new friends and I walked to Ann Sathers restaurant for the welcome dinner. I really can't describe how it felt to be surrounded by so many gay Asian leaders, from Hawaii to Massachusetts. As we introduced ourselves and spoke briefly about our respective LGBTQI Asian groups, a common concern permeated throughout: how do we sustain support and representation within the LGBTQI Asian community? It was comforting to hear that other groups share similar challenges, successes, and goals as QAPA; it was certainly inspirational. I was also really impressed with the diversity of the whole group. There are Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, African American, transgendered, bisexual, lesbian, boi, radical, femme, gay men and women, and everything in between - certainly one of the most beautiful mosaics I've ever seen :) Some represent groups that have been active since 1984, others are in their first year. But all of us care about and want to protect and develop our respective organizations for the sake of the LGBTQI Asian community.
Despite our varied backgrounds, we all agreed there was no better way to end an amazing first day than to head out to the Bollywood party at Big Chicks bar. The bar itself was your typical crowded, male-dominated gay bar, but the real party was on the T, or the "L" as the train is called here. A gang from my hotel and I traveled to the bar together and shared a lot of laughs and intense conversation while riding on the L. It was a great bonding experience, and an opportunity to talk about something else besides NQAPIA :) We ended the evening with a very serious conversation about monogamy versus polyamory. My fabulous new friend Tuan is a hopeless romantic, a man after my own heart. My new Korean friend John is the anti-hopeless romantic, a man whose realism and cynism I appreciate. My roommate, Di (another Korean, woot!) is convinced they aren't going to hook up; I am convinced they already have.