Over the years, the San Diego Diplomacy Council has been honored to partner with San Diego Pride in hosting International Visitors during State International Visitor Programs (IVLP). During their time together, global leaders in LGBTQ activism had the opportunity to learn about and collaborate with SD Pride, along with exchanging ideas. These meeting have resulted in a global influence that has directly impacted LGBTQ organizations around the world. SD Pride has funded a number of extremely successful projects founded by these IVLP Alumni. Thank you SD Pride for your continued support and ongoing collaboration with these global leaders. We are beyond proud of these IVLP Alumni and the strides they are making in their communities and we continue to be inspired by your courage. Read below some of the incredible stories from these Alumni about their collaboration with SD Pride, and click here to watch a short video.
Nisha Ayub is a leading advocate for transgender rights in Malaysia and was a 2016 International Women of Courage honoree. She is also a co-founder of two NGOs that provide support for transgender individuals and other marginalized communities. Since her visit to San Diego and with the support of San Diego Pride, she has opened the first transgender home in Malaysia.
“[I’m] truly honored and truly proud of it because this is with the assistance of San Diego Pride that has helped us from the beginning to actually open our first ever transgender home which is very meaningful to the community here” says Nisha.
Nisha mentions how being nominated for the International Women of Courage award has opened many door and opportunities for the transgender community in Malaysia, including important visibility and support from local activists in Malaysia. The T Home has housed 23 people since its inception and has 9 residents currently who range in age from 21 to 68 years old. They shared a success story as follows:
“Kayra” is an Indian transgender women who was seeking temporary shelter with T Home, as she was homeless. She was a sex worker as its difficult to get a proper job due to her gender identity. She came to live at T Home and after 1 month, I managed to get her a job at a laundry shop. She was able to work at the same company till today. After staying at the T home for 6 months, she shifted out to a new job and is now able to rent her own room. She even owns her own motorbike which she uses to get to work.
June Chua is the co-founder and chair of The T Project, the only shelter specifically serving the transgender community in Singapore. June is a 2018 IVLP Alumna who visited San Diego during the exchange.
With the support of San Diego Pride, the T-project conducted four focus group discussion with the transgender community, which led to the publication of a sexual health guidebook for sex workers. Since then, The T Project has continued to realize the negative perception of getting tested and accessing preventative measures. This has inspired them to continue growing and to develop bigger projects in future.
June also explains that in late 2018, the Minister of Law came down to The T Project which represented the first time a minster had visited an lgbt organization. This opened many doors for The T Project, increasing their visibility and credibility and leading to government agencies contacting them for meetings. June hope that eventually this will lead to funding from the government to further support the transgender community.
“I am so proud to say that at the center we offer counseling services and what is different from others is my counselors are professionals they themselves also identify as trans.”
Nikoleta Gabrovska is the Executive Directors of the Single Step Foundation in Bulgaria. Nikoleta also visited San Diego on an IVLP exchange in 2018.
With a grant from San Diego Pride the Single Step Foundation organized the first multidisciplinary artistic LGBTI workshop called CampOUT in July 2019. Over the course of 5 days, twelve young artists from all over Bulgaria focused on artistic development and personal growth. They were even joined and mentored by US visual Artists Jonathan Rosen and Tom Smith.
“Because of [San Diego Pride’s] support, we managed to turn it into an annual format so this year, again, we will have our next addition and this is an amazing way to actually create a community because these twelve young artists still feel very connected and they still work together and create together,” Nikoleta explains.
They are hopeful that turning CampOUT into an annual event will help strengthen the community of young LGBTQ artist and attract new mentors to give the project more visibility and helping fight the stigmas.
Also, here you can find all news, related to CampOUT in English: https://singlestep.bg/en/camp-out-application/
Massam Hussain Ansari
Massam Hussain Ansari is the Administrative and Financial Manager of Sathi Foundation and is a 2018 IVLP Alum.
During his visit and meeting with San Diego Pride, he was given the chance to attend the Pride parade which left Massam feeling inspired. “The whole IVLP program and the time with the community and fellow travelers around the world actually gave energy and spirit to realize what I am actually capable of.” Massam explains.
With the support of San Diego Pride, the Sathi Foundation and Track T to organize Pakistan’s First Transgender Pride on December 29, 2018 in Lahore. This commemorated the successfully passed Transgenders’ Rights Law earlier that year.
With the Covid-19 impact on Pakistan, the Sathi Foundation is currently running online groups and answering one on one phone calls to prevent mental trauma since the majority of the community is not open to their friends and family. Massam also explained that the Sathi Foundation’s clinic, which provides free HIV and STD testing and is a safe place for the community, are now closed because of the pandemic. More positively, they are in the process of helping community based businesses to support economic growth.