"Canceling" Cops at Gay Pride Marches and Events is Misguided

Beyond the obvious disregard for the rights of law enforcement personnel who wish to be active participants in pride events is the matter of public safety, which can be seriously jeopardized when cops are kept from large gatherings of people.

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In late May, organizers of the New York City Gay Pride events—including one of the largest marches for the LBGTQ community in the United States—said they are banning officers with the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies from marching in the annual events until at least 2025.

The organization said in a written statement, "NYC Pride seeks to create safer spaces for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities at a time when violence against marginalized groups, specifically BIPOC and trans communities, has continued to escalate. The sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force…"

For those of you who are not read-in on the latest lingo, BIPOC is an acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. LGBTQIA+ is an ever-evolving acronym which presently covers people of all genders and sexualities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and allies.

The Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) of New York City—which seeks to "serve as a bridge between the law enforcement community and The LGBTQ Community"—said in a written statement that the organization is "disheartened by the decision to ban our group from participating in New York City Pride."

GOAL said further that its members have been actively working on "every police reform and policy revision touching on the LGBTQIA+ community in New York City."

Indeed, GOAL has "provided LGBTQIA+ training for every new NYPD recruit at the academy, educating future officers on the unique challenges facing our community," the organization said.

Sadly though, NYC Pride organizers want to exclude GOAL members from this year's Pride events. The exclusion of GOAL members—and any other police officers—from the festivities is misguided and counterproductive.

It's how you shut down conversations, not start them. It's how you alienate people, not reach out to them.

It's how opportunities are quickly turned into missed opportunities.

Other Cities

Sadly, the move in the Big Apple—the most populous and arguably the most diversely populated city in America—is one of several efforts seeking to marginalize and "cancel" people in the LGBTQIA+ community who also happen to be law enforcement officers.

For example, organizers of the Denver Pride Fest have told local law enforcement agencies they are not welcome to participate in this year's festivities.

Organizers reportedly felt they needed to "take a stand" against what they said is a history of police "violence and harassment" against the LGBTQIA+ community.

Denver Pride organizers said that they "cannot in good conscience, as an organization that speaks up for justice, look the other way when it comes to police violence…"

In recent years, officers from cities across the United States have been excluded from annual Gay Pride events. Activists in cities such as Minneapolis, St. Petersburg, FL, Sacramento, CA, and elsewhere have excluded police from participating in their annual events.

Similar efforts to shun police at pride vents have happened around the globe.

In New Zealand, the Auckland Pride Board said in 2018 that it was committed to "creating a space for our rainbow communities to feel safe celebrating their gender and sexual identity," and would ban police from the 2019 event because "some members of the gay community felt unsafe around [the police]."

In nearby Australia, an open letter authored by LGBTQI+ activists affiliated with the Sydney-based Pride In Protest organization to ban police officers correctional officers from the Melbourne Pride march.

In Canada, organizers in Toronto voted narrowly (163-161) to keep uniformed officers out of the Gay Pride 2019 parade—they said that officers could still march, but not in uniform. Uniformed officers were first banned from the parade in 2017 and again in 2018. The 2019 vote effectively meant that uniformed officers would be excluded from the events indefinitely.

Uniformed police have also been excluded from Vancouver's annual pride parade.

I could go on, but you get the idea—caustic and myopic discrimination knows no borders.

Sacrificing Safety

Beyond the obvious disregard for the rights of law enforcement personnel who wish to be active participants in pride events is the matter of public safety, which can be seriously jeopardized when cops are kept from large gatherings of people.

On-duty officers stand along the parade routes ready to protect participants from any threat that may suddenly emerge from the crowd. Police command staff painstakingly plan that police presence to be reassuring—not threatening—to the people both in the parade and those standing on the sidewalks along the way.

It's no secret that there are some people in this country who are ardently homophobic bigots. These malcontents are responsible for reprehensible criminal acts against members of the LGBTQIA+ community—everything from vandalism to violence—and certainly pose a potential threat at large scale events such as pride parades.

By the way, anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community who vilifies the police must also ask and answer the question, "Who investigates and brings to justice the people who commit heinous homophobic hate crimes?"

Oh, yeah, that would be the police.

Final Words

Any organization purporting to be "inclusive" that purposefully excludes a group of people based on their career choice is essentially pandering to an extreme faction who detests the police no matter what, no matter where, and no matter when.

Any effort to tell officers who happen to be members of the LGBTQIA+ community that they are not welcome in that community's biggest and most visible celebrations is beyond ironic—it's patently stupid.

Annual Gay Pride events take place in June to mark the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising outside a Manhattan gay bar, in response to a police raid. Taking stock of that history is important—recognizing past mistakes is an essential foundation for taking steps to make meaningful improvements both for today and into the future.

However, to toss aside a group of people who have—for more than four decades—worked feverishly to improve the relationship between police and members of the LGBTQIA+ community is hypocritical, short-sighted, and self-defeating.

The notion of "cancel culture" has spread like a wind-blown wildfire across this great nation. Organizers of events celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community are intentionally "cancelling" members of their own community.

What's next? Will organizers of Junteenth—the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States—tell black police officers that they're not welcome at the annual event?

Not long ago, that would be inconceivable—nowadays, no manner of anti-cop activism appears to be impossible. 

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