On Saturday, writing for The New York Times, columnist Roxane Gay laid out why police officers should not presume to have the right to be included in pride parades.
This comes as LGBTQ police officer groups have faced controversy around the country as pride marches in Denver and New York City have banned them from participating. Individual LGBTQ officers are welcome to march — so long as they aren't in uniform or representing police groups.
"Modern Pride celebrations began with a rebellion against the police," wrote Gay. "In June 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, there was yet another police raid — but this time it was met with a raucous protest. The bar patrons fought back and continued to protest for the next several days. A movement, largely ignited by Black trans women and young gay hustlers, was born. The first gay pride parade was held the following year in New York City."
"Now, after Pride organizers asked police officers to refrain from marching in uniform as a group in the New York parade (as Pride organizations have done in other cities), there has been an outcry and complaints that L.G.B.T.Q. officers are now the ones being marginalized," she continued. "But many of us want no part of a display of police pride. Our history is young, and we have not forgotten it. For decades, the police have tormented our communities. They enforced laws about how we dressed, where we congregated and whom we had sex with. They beat us, blackmailed us and put us in jail."
Even now, argued Gay, police do not center the needs of LGBTQ communities when they require help. "Violence against Black trans women remains disproportionately high, with many reporting that they don't feel safe going to the police for fear of encountering more violence or facing disbelief and indifference," she wrote. "According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 27 trans or gender-nonconforming people, most of them Black or Latinx, have been murdered so far in 2021, and many of their killings have gone unsolved."
"L.G.B.T.Q. officers are more than welcome to join Pride celebrations — unarmed and in civilian clothing," wrote Gay. "They are being asked to confront their complicity with an institution that does more harm than good to vulnerable communities. It is telling that some of these officers refuse to do so ... What we need, what we've always wanted and deserved, is what Debbie and I found when we first marched at Pride: a welcoming space where we can be safe and free."
You can read more here.