On June 28, 1969, New York Police raided a bar and ignited a riot that we remember every year during the month of June. The parades and marches today remember the struggles, celebrate the gains, and remind us that there is still much more to equality to fight for.
Pride marches started out as a demand for acceptance and inclusion. They pushed back on the oppressive actions of law enforcement. In the decades that followed, law enforcement became less of an adversary and much more of an ally. As LGBTQ+ people made themselves visible within the rank and file of law enforcement agencies across the country, gay and transgender people began to see themselves represented in the ranks of local, state and federal law enforcement. Since that time, LGBT Liaison Officers have grown in numbers and have strengthened the relationship between police and the LGBTQ+ community.
What saddens me most this year is to see a continuing trend of local Pride organizations regress back to the attitudes of those early years of pride and exclude even the LGBTQ+ members of law enforcement from participating in Pride events. The individuals who openly discriminate against members of our own community in this way deny the millions of pride-event-goers from seeing the many LGBTQ+ people who serve in uniform. They deny young people an opportunity to see themselves represented in powerful leadership positions, such as law enforcement. It’s hypocritical at best and doesn’t do anything to promote acceptance and inclusion as was the desire on that night in 1969.
We know that these radical activists are in the minority and are acting to serve their own personal agendas and self-interests. We also know their views do not represent the majority of the LGBTQ+ community. Is there still tremendous work to be done to build trust between police and the people they serve? ABSOLUTELY there is. But summarily dismissing those who seek to build trust isn’t serving the interests of anyone.
None of us at Out To Protect are going to let the rejection and discrimination dissuade or distract us from our mission. We are more committed than ever to helping law enforcement become better and more effective in serving the LGBTQ+ community. And we continue to be committed to supporting LGBTQ+ people who are pursuing a noble career in law enforcement. We will continue to promote full visibility of our LGBTQ+ members of law enforcement and the important role of the LGBT Liaison Officer. We hope you will continue to support us in this important work.
Once again, Happy Pride to all!
Greg Miraglia, President and CEO
Out To Protect Inc.