How a semester in India with SIT shaped LGBTQ+ advocate HB Lozito: ‘I learned to love our community fiercely’

June 28th, 2021   |   SIT Study Abroad

HB Lozito, executive director of Out in the Open and an SIT Study Abroad alum.

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. This year, School for International Training proud to sponsor Out in the Open’s Celebrating Queer Joy Campaign. Based in Brattleboro, Vermont, Out in the Open is run by Executive Director HB Lozito (they/them), who is an alum of SIT Study Abroad. The organization works locally and regionally in northern New England to build community, visibility, knowledge, and power among rural LGBTQ+ people. HB shared their experience studying abroad in India with SIT in 2005 and the impact it had on their life and career.

My experience on SIT Study Abroad was absolutely transformative. The fellow student who lived closest to me during the majority of our semester remains one of the closest people in my life. Absolutely my queer family. I never would have made it through the semester without him and I cannot imagine my life without him now.

Three young adults sit in wicker chairs under a large sun umbrella two holding balloon flowers.
Lozito (left) with two of their SIT Study Abroad classmates in India.

More directly related to my present work with rural LGBTQ+ communities, that person completed his Independent Study Project (ISP) about men who have sex with men at a time (2005) when queer sex was punishable by up to 10 years in prison in India, where we were living. Being alongside him in this work, I learned to love our community fiercely, to fight hard for what we want and need, and to always say yes to LGBTQ+ folks, even when everyone else is saying no. 

I also learned how to design and work on my own largescale project during our ISP time in a way that I hadn't in other learning communities. Skills I grew—visioning, manifesting, executing, approaching with curiosity, and others—were hugely beneficial to me in the early years of building Out in the Open into the thriving organization and community of rural LGBTQ+ people that we are today.

I could write pages about my experience with SIT! But perhaps most importantly, a recommendation: If you ever have the chance to hop into a jeep and drive off into the steaming jungle with [then Academic Director] Dr. Mary Storm, do it.