Today I want to write about an annoying text image I cannot agree with. It reads in all caps “MY PRIDE INCLUDES POLICE.” The text is all black, except for the word police which is in rainbow letters. Somehow cops got our rainbow in this. To understand this message fully, we must review some recent history.
Last month during Toronto’s Pride event, Black Lives Matter activists stopped the procession to voice their objections to increased police presence at LGBT events. Police presence has been shown to endanger vulnerable groups like people of color, disabled people, and oh yes , queer people.
The lead organizer for Toronto Pride agreed to their requests and the event resumed. Afterwards, he claimed to have only promised action to stop their protest, and that he had no intention of keeping his word. Since then the perennial question of cops at Pride has been debated at length.
Police is a career path, not a queer identity. Out of all the professions in the world, why is the only group with a float in our march the group tasked with suppressing us? Homosexuality was illegal in the United States and Canada until recently. Police were the ones storming our clubs, roughing up our people, and throwing us in jail for “indecent” behavior. Cops are still the ones tasked with enforcing vagrancy laws against homeless gay teens and locking up trans women for prostitution, whether they engage in that work or not.
The LGBT community is diverse. It includes atheists and pagans and Christians and Muslims, people with anxiety and depression and PTSD (sometimes caused by police brutality). It includes a few cops too, and if they want to come to Pride in their street clothes as queer people, they should. Their career, which has inflicted direct harm on uncountable numbers of LGBT people, should never be honored with a float, never given a seat at our table.
Here are some other inclusive ideas just as nonsensical.
– My pro-choice movement includes Catholic bishops!
– My biology education includes creationism!
– My feminism includes the Congressional GOP!
– My fire extinguisher includes napalm!”
Some things can’t work together, by their nature. Cops have long worked against the health, safety, rights, and interests of the queer community as a whole and of many of our population groups. We cannot include cops without excluding their LGBT victims. I know who I want at the table, and I know it isn’t the administrators of state violence.