Where do the police belong at Pride? Should they just be there to protect? Should they not be allowed to participate in the actual Pride parade itself?
We in America have been watching this debate happen across our northern border for the past year with mixed results:
A. not allowing uniform police to participate in the Toronto Pride Parade,
B. allowed in Vancouver, but limited to march along with other public servants in one communal presentation).
I clapped my hands off before typing up Toronto Police Invited To March In Uniform In NYC's Televised Pride Parade. I'm not shy about my opinion. Police should be able to march in uniform. Send you letters right to me . . . firstname.lastname@example.org .
I swore at Canada many times for pissing me off on this topic. Not wanting to be left out, an Oregon group joined in the awful practice of making police think twice about their job, their pride, what they stand for, and who they are.
Pride Northwest, the LGBTQ organization that is responsible for the annual Portland Pride Parade, sent a letter to police officers that are planning on participating in the parade to ask them to wear something else other than their police uniforms.
The group's letter states the police uniform has been a “barrier that quite often prevents the conversation from ever even getting started.”
According to the letter, the uniform could be a barrier because of the Portland's Police Bureau's poor history with the LGBTQ community:
At the same time, we are also very aware of the history between law enforcement and the LGBTQ community. And that is a history that remains unresolved, particularly for our LGBTQ people of color and Trans-identified. So, we have two things true at once.
Given both of these things, we at Pride Northwest, as the entity entrusted to represent and honor ALL of our community, find ourselves caught in the middle. We have been approached by many in our community, who don’t feel safe at their own Pride, with a great many planning not to participate at all.
They clarified officers will not be turned away if they do show up in uniform, but they “only ask, based on all of the above, is to consider the potential of not doing so.” – ijr.com
I've attended two Prides this year. One was Tel Aviv (TRAVEL THURSDAY: We Are Still Recovering From Our Trip To Israel And Tel Aviv Pride). The military presence was noticeable everywhere. Every street corner, every long stretch of road had AK-47s in spades. I felt safe, secure. I took pictures of the troops as I walked the streets and enjoyed my Tel Aviv Pride Parade. I so want to go back.
My other pride I attended was here in Wilton Manors. The Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade was so much different than my Middle East experience just a short 10 days ago. The parade had law enforcement participants and security all over and throughout. I didn't take too many pictures of the police in the Florida parade since I was too busy applauding their presence in the parade.
My reaction to the police presence was quite different here in the US. Why was I more negatively influenced by the Florida police working security than I was the ones marching in the parade? Why did the men and women in uniform working the barriers at every intersection, wearing bullet proof vests and clearly carrying have a much more massive and more emotional response than the Israeli soldiers or the ones marching in the Wilton Manors' parade?
Why was I more overjoyed to see the police officers than any of the religious groups march through the Florida streets? Because I am white and not oppressed? Is my white privilege showing again? Possibly, but I am not the only one that feels calling for the police to self-evaluate before participating.
People within the LGBT community, especially police officers, are not happy with the [Pride Northwest's] decision:
The Oregonian reports Lt. Tashia Hager blasted Pride Northwest's request, “Today I learned I was asked to step back into a closet by a group of people who should know better,” she said.
“I would like to think that the ideals of inclusion and acceptance are not only what the gay community preaches but it is also what it practices,” she added.
Lt. Hager also told The Oregonian she was "sad and mad'' when she found out about the request.
Robert Ball, commander of the Police Bureau's reserve officers program, also told The Oregonian he contacted the event's organizers directly to express his opposition, "I thought it was a mistake. In my view, it actually sets us back,'' he said.
In another statement, Pride Northwest clarified it “does NOT have a preference that personnel not march in uniform. Our one and only ask is that individual officers give thought to that choice.” – ijr.com
"Oh, you're going dressed like that?" What the fuck. Welcome back to peer pressure filled high school.
Every time this issue comes up I ask myself, why aren't we generically banning other groups? For example:
- RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS have oppressed us, kicked us out, led conversion therapy camps. They have done us wrong in the past and still. So what if some support us. Should we subjugate parade watchers with having to see people representing historically oppressive religious groups. I personally look the other way when a religious group marches in a pride parade. I really do.
- POLITICIANS have voted against us so much in the past and are still creating laws to oppress us. So what if some fight for our rights. They are members of a larger negative group that are still keeping us down. Without knowing their personal record, I don't clap or applaud for politicians in pride parades. I have no idea if they have stood up for our rights or not.
The first time this issue seemed to boil to a head was during last year's Toronto Pride with the Black Lives Matter protest which lead to the banning of police officers in uniform. Note that the Black Lives Matter group is not marching in this year's Toronto Pride Parade but their efforts to alter the pride celebration and add discrimination have stuck. If I recall, one of the themes for Toronto's Pride last year was, "You Can Sit With Us." It's sad now that we have altered that phrase to "you can sit with us, just not dressed like that."
If someone's participation in a parade pisses you off. Don't watch them. Don't fucking look. Don't fucking applaud. My white privilege may be showing, but your blanket hatred is blowing in the breeze for the world to see.
Happy Pride to all, well, apparently just to the ones we want to allow to show their pride.
Here's the letter sent by Pride Northwest. Click on images for a larger view or this link.