GLIFAA is one of those organizations that eventually did away with its clunky name (it was formerly Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies) in favor of its acronym. Its tag is “lgbt+ in pride in foreign affairs agencies.”
Started secretively in 1992, its members work to secure fair treatment of LGBT colleagues in the foreign affairs community, including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development and more.
The group has its annual Pink Party Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Chastleton (1701 16th St., N.W.) for members and friends. Tickets are available at glifaa.org/activities/pink-party-2015.
Vanessa Vega calls her work as volunteer social director for GLIFAA her “gay job” while her “day job” is deputy program manager for a contractor at the United States Agency for International Development.
The 34-year-old El Paso, Texas, native came to Washington 11 years ago because she was “determined” and desired to “live in an international city.” She and partner, Lindsey, live in Southwest Washington. Vega enjoys cycling, guitar and traveling in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
About 10 years, it was a progression. My parents were toughest because I didn’t want my coming out to change our relationship. Fortunately it didn’t and they are my biggest supporters. After that coming out at work was not as challenging.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
The unsung heroes of the LGBT movement: everyday people who risk their safety and livelihoods in the midst of adversity just to be themselves.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
My favorite night out is same-sex country dancing at Town hosted by the D.C. Rawhides. My favorite day spot in the summer is Dodge City, especially on Sundays for the Ladies Tea Dance.
Describe your dream wedding.
As long as it’s outdoors and DJ Jacq Jill (jacqjillmusic.com) is spinning we’ll be happy.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Immigration. As a Mexican-American who grew up in a border town, it’s especially personal.
What historical outcome would you change?
There are too many to pick just one.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Getting upgraded to floor seats at Madonna’s “Confessions Tour” concert. I might have cried, a little.
On what do you insist?
Communication. Working in personnel management (and being in relationships with women) have led me to appreciate open and honest communication, no matter how difficult the circumstance. Leave the mind reading to psychics.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
The Pink Party! It will be a chance for people to enjoy signature cocktails, nibble on delicious snacks, connect with old friends and make new ones! GLIFAA also hosts second Tuesday monthly happy hours for members and those interested in foreign affairs to network.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Nombre! The Misadventures of a Mexicana in D.C.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Pray it (the science) away.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
According to my mom if I say it, it opens a door. So no comment.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Thank you for everything you do for the community. There is no way any one of us can do it alone so remember it’s about all of us, including women, men, transgender, bisexual and gender non-conforming people. Be a voice for those who often are forgotten.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Any of my loved ones in a heartbeat. Family and close friends mean the world to me and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That fabulousness is synonymous with fancy clothes, a luxury apartment and limitless income. LGBT people are struggling. Homelessness, violence and exploitation are realities for many LGBT people here in D.C. and abroad. As a community we need to redefine our vision to be inclusive of all people including those from various socioeconomic backgrounds.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What’s wrong with double dipping? I also love to share plates.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I have an incredible group of loved ones and an extraordinary girlfriend. I feel like I won the lotto every day. Getting my master’s degree in my 30s was cool, too.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That by 30 years old I would be happy and awesome! Not old and boring.
I moved to D.C. to get a change of perspective. I knew the world was bigger than Texas and D.C. had an incredibly diverse community. Moving here also gave me the strength to come out and exposed me to people and circumstances that challenged my way of seeing things. It can be a tough place to navigate at first, but finding the right friends has made all the difference.