The visits of global LGBTQ community leaders and activists to San Diego are not just a matter of cultural and professional exchange. Already ambassadors of change in their own country, these individuals travel to the U.S. as citizen diplomats on a mission. The reverberating impact of such visitors is epitomized in Nisha Ayub, as her collaboration with San Diego Pride has had far-reaching implications for social change in Malaysia.
After being presented the prestigious 2016 U.S. Secretary of State International Women of Courage award in Washington D.C., Nisha, a transgender activist from Malaysia, came to San Diego to meet with prominent LGBTQ governmental, academic and nonprofit actors. Her time in our community was used to leverage media and communities, to influence government, societies, and individuals in an effort to improve LGBTQ rights around the world.
Specifically, the San Diego Diplomacy Council arranged for a four-day tour which included a public discussion at San Diego State University, a convening with prominent judges, attorneys and law enforcement professionals addressing human rights violations and hate crimes, a dialogue with community activists upholding the protection of transgender youth in San Diego, and meetings with other local leaders from San Diego Pride, The LGBT Community Center, the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation and the University of San Diego.
SDDC had the pleasure of presenting Nisha with a proclamation from Mayor Kevin Faulconer which recognized April 5, 2016 as “Nisha Ayub Day”. Additionally, City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez honored Nisha Ayub with the Jose Julio Sarria Civil Rights Award and a $1,000 gift to her foundation.
Today, San Diego Pride helps fund Nisha’s SEED Foundation with a four-year grant. This grant has allowed SEED to continue to operate their Drop In Center for the community, where they are able to receive information, support, care, and offer a safe space. Nisha stated, “San Diego Pride has given the community here in Malaysia a sense of belonging. [We] are truly grateful and humbled to have an ally [in] San Diego Pride.”