Boy’s done good. Just over four years ago, HIV/AIDS awareness activist Julian Sanjivan sought asylum in the US after facing anti-LGBT discrimination and sexual violence.
Though nearly becoming broke and homeless in New York during the asylum process, Sanjivan eventually found his footing, and is now march director of the 2016 NYC Pride parade—one of the largest ever, in the wake of Orlando.
In a profile piece on the Wall Street Journal, Sanjivan said that group registration for this year’s march had already closed before 49 people were gunned down at the Pulse nightclub.
But after that fateful day on June 12, Heritage for Pride—the nonprofit that organises NYC Pride—were absolutely flooded with calls and emails from groups wanting to show defiance in the face of hatred, and Sanjivan “didn’t have the heart to say no.”
His predecessor, David Studinski (now co-chairman of Heritage of Pride) called Sanjivan the “heir apparent” to the post. Sanjivan lived up to the promise early, managing to rope in a delegation from the NBA and rope in Syrian LGBT rights advocate Subhi Nahas as grand marshal for the march. And from all accounts so far of the this year’s huge and historic NYC Pride, Sanjivan’s done a great job.
Before this year’s NYC Pride kicked off, US president Barack Obama had declared Stonewall Inn—the site of the Stonewall riots—a national monument to LGBT rights, before New York governor Andrew Cuomo announcing that the state would pledge US$1 million to the creation of a separate monument for the “the victims of Orlando and the victims of hate crimes everywhere.”
With many of the marchers wearing orange and holding up “We are Orlando” signs, the parade was quite fittingly led by owner of Pulse, Barbara Poma, riding atop a float resembling Stonewall Inn.