More from NQAPIA 2015 CONFERENCE- “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know you were coming,”

headshot liz by liz thomson, Chicago i2i member

About an hour before the 2015 National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) Conference reception was to begin, I changed clothes to something a bit fancier. A summery tank blouse replaced my t-shirt; my white jeans replaced my shorts. I was eager to mix and mingle with folks I hadn’t seen for years, but also meet some new folks.

As more people came in, I heard phrases such as, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know you were coming,” “Wow- it’s been too long,” and “Aaaah, you look so good!” For me, one of the best things about NQAPIA is making national connections and seeing each other at either the summits or conferences. There’s such a sense of sincere friendliness and thoughtfulness. The conference emcee, Kit Yan, kept the program moving, and we had laughs from comedian Fawzia Mirza. We all applauded and appreciated the many sponsors that contributed at different levels. The reception wrapped up with program logistics, and folks leaving for the after party at the Kit Kat Club.Tomorrow will be an early start and an exciting first plenary. So much more to come!08_06_fawzia

The conference is being held at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and last year, the campus went tobacco free. There are signs around campus and outside about the ban, but unfortunately not a lot of education or marketing about the ban. I don’t know how many people at the conference smoke, but I wonder what they’ll think about the ban?

I grew up with a parent that smoked from her teens to almost her death. I remember growing up thinking she’d die of lung cancer, because those were the messages I’d see on TV. I remember feeling sad when I couldn’t sit on her lap because she was smoking and I was having asthma problems. I look back and remember flying to Europe and in the plane half of it was smoking section and the other half non-smoking, yet it made no sense – the smoke still filled the plane.

I understand smoking as a coping and the addictive nature of nicotine. I’ve never smoked because of my parent. But I do hope that those who are trying to quit, keep trying.

liz thomson is a member of the LGBTQQ API community organization called Chicago i2i. She identifies as cisgender, bisexual, female, Vietnamese adoptee. liz currently is a PhD student in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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