As I walked into the Vienna AIDS 2010 LGBT BBQ, sponsored by COC Netherlands and Schorer, I was struck by how many people from the conference were all in one place who also happened to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender. The diversity that is the International AIDS Conference was represented there - queer people with a diversity of nationalities, accents, languages and dress.
My friend and former colleague, with whom I worked in forming an LGBTI support group and MSM/WSW research in Lesotho, was there and one of the first things she said to me was, “There are so many gay people here, all in one place. It reminds me of your going away party when you left Lesotho.”
She was referring to a party I threw and to which I invited every LGBT person I knew as well as their friends and friends of friends. I not only wanted people to remember me, but I also wanted to give back to the community that had accepted me and included me with such open, welcoming arms. At my event in Lesotho, people could be who they are, with no toning down and nothing hidden.