If I understand correctly, go to the preferences (buddy list -> tools -> prefs) and in the first tab (interface) make sure "show system tray icon" is set to always.
If that's not it, look through the rest of the preferences and look for something like lock to panel.
I don't know if you need to restart gaim for changes to take effect
I wanted to proclaim myself "The Typo King" but there's way too much competion. :p
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