By Lakshmi Sundaresan
So, first thing’s first (I’m the realest). If you’re reading this blogpost, chances are that you were/are unable to join us at the August 6-9 NQAPIA conference (or you had such a great time that you just want to relive it through these faboosh blogposts). I’m sorry you couldn’t be there, but never fear, these daily recaps will make you feel like you didn’t miss a thing (I hope).
The first official event of the conference was the Welcome Reception on Thursday night, featuring performances from Hina Wong-Kalu and Fawzia Mirza, introductory addresses from Joy Messinger of i2i Chicago and Jay Nair of Trikone Chicago, and MC’ed by the incomparable Kit Yan. Being here makes the weekend breathe with possibility. It seems like everyone is deciding which workshops and performances to attend and figuring out how they are going to sleep during the next three days (Rest assured, we will find a way. Or, more likely enjoy each other’s company as we actively combat sleep deprivation with large quantities of free coffee). More than that, this reception is a place for people to meet, reunite, and be free. For me, that started at the reception. I saw Kumu Hina a few months ago with i2i-Chicago, but watching Hina chant today on the stage to open the reception felt like the perfect majestic beginning. Joy’s irreverence and Jay’s sincerity in the opening statements acknowledged the progress that i2i-Chicago and Trikone-Chicago have made since their formation in creating spaces and family among their respective communities.
While we are here building community and support, many of the workshops during the NQAPIA conference will be focused on a variety of health issues specifically affecting the LGBTQ and API communities. In her opening address, Joy highlighted the free insertive/receptive condoms and lube that people could pick up throughout the conference. Christina has also written about the variety of health-related workshops that people can attend during the course of the next three days (including mine!). Building a healthy community is just as much a part of sustaining this movement as educating successive generations of activists, and I am eager to do that work.
In the spirit of activism, this year’s conference theme is Thriving Together: Building Community, Solidarity, and Movement. On an ordinary day, I might not believe those words, but today, in this space and in this company, they mean something. Standing next to all of the new friends I have made, those words have been the guide post to all of the months of planning leading up to the conference and they continue to be the pillars upon which I hang my baby activism goals. So, as mushy as it sounds, I’m honored to be here with these people because to me it feels like being on the right side of history. And I look forward to proactively seeking justice with all of you.
All I can say is that I hope these blog posts are actively alleviating your FOMO**.
*Agitated. This phrase is a reference to Fawzia Mirza’s stand-up routine during the opening address where she referenced how the contingent of conference goers were an agitated and eager activist bunch. I believe the quotation went something like, “Do you want to agitate with me? That’s consent y’all…Take condoms, they’re expensive”
**For those non-youths out there, FOMO is an acronym that stands for “fear of missing out.” But now that you have read these recaps, you should understand FOMO intellectually, but feel like you experienced the glory of the NQAPIA conference with us. And yes, you should definitely let me tell you what you’re missing out on.