One of the oldest celebrations for the LGBTQ community in the world was the annual Pride celebration in New York City. The parade began 51 years ago and has long been a symbol of the strength, defiance and pride of this community. The whole idea was to show the full spectrum of the influence, participation and expression of LGBTQ in our society. However, this year activists decided to discriminate against one group: police officers. In a parade that was found to oppose discrimination in any form, organizers of the Gay Officers Action League and other such groups announced that they were not allowed to march. Their presence is seen as a threat to others at the parade and a denial of a “safe space” for LGBTQ members. It is hard to imagine the parade being more contrasting when it excludes officers who are part of the community and want to stand publicly with other LGBTQ members.
The organizers have announced that police and correction officers will be banned from participating in the parade until at least 2025. They stated, “The sense of security law enforcement is designed to provide can instead be threatening and sometimes dangerous to those in our community, most often attacked with excessive violence and / or for no cause. “
The Gay Officers Action League, an LGBTQ police organization, condemned the decision on Friday night. Additionally, the NYPD is asked to stay at least one block away from all events to ensure a safe environment for attendees.
Activists have long spoken out against the involvement of the police, citing the uprising against the police outside the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. However, police attendees have marched to show that the NYPD not only supports the LGBTQ community, but includes community officials as well. It’s the sheer rejection of the uprising image at the Stonewall Inn and evidence of the strides made not only by the LGBTQ community but the NYPD as well.
Still, Beverly Tillery, the executive director of the New York Anti-Violence Project, insists that “[t]The question is, how can we make Pride safe for the people who feel most marginalized and who have often been left out of the talks about how Pride is conducted? “
It is a terrible setback and an insult to officers and their predecessors who first sue in 1996 for the right to march in uniform. They have struggled to diversify the ranks of the NYPD and show that officers are not just supportive but part of the LGBTQ community. That seems like an incredibly powerful and comforting message to send to community members. The annual growth in numbers showed the progress made since 1978 when New York City Mayor Ed Koch outlawed discrimination in hiring police officers based on sexual orientation (via the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association objection).
On November 2, 1969, Craig Rodwell, Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy and Linda Rhodes called for an annual march for all “homophile organizations”. The march was intended as a declaration against any kind of exclusionary limit for members of the community: