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San Francisco Mayor, LGBTQ+ Cops Boycott Pride Parade

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday May 27, 2022

Following the lead of cities like New York and Denver, San Francisco Pride decided on May 11 not to allow police officers to participate in the parade in uniform. LGBTQ+ officers — and the city mayor — have responded by announcing that if that's going to be the case, they won't be participating at all.

The San Francisco Times reported that the city's mayor, London Breed, "said she will join the parade, which she called one of her favorite events, only if the Board of Directors of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration reverses its decision."

In a statement, Breed said, "We can't say, we want more Black officers, or we want more LGBTQ officers, and then treat those officers with disrespect when they actually step up and serve."

The head of San Francisco Pride, Suzanne Ford, noted to the press that the city is hardly alone in imposing such a ban — "almost every major city with a pride parade in the United States is dealing with this issue," she said — and pointed out that San Francisco officers were given the option to march while wearing T-shirts or polos that identify them as officers.

Providing a larger context, CNN recounted that similar bans on uniformed police were instituted for last year's Pride parades in New York City and Denver. As far back as 2017, a ban on uniformed officers took hold in Toronto, with another Canadian city, Vancouver, following suit in 2020.

"Participation by uniformed law enforcement at Pride events can seem threatening or dangerous to an LGBTQ+ community that over decades has been targeted with excessive force, even if their presence is intended to foster a sense of community and safety, advocacy groups have said," CNN detailed.

"Indeed, Pride marches began in response to a 1969 police raid on Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, that sparked multiple days of protests."

Articulating a different point of view, the San Francisco police — and the city's firefighters along with them, in solidarity — issued a statement in which they "said the ban on uniforms was a reminder of a time when officers and firefighters had to hide that they were LGBTQ+."

Saying the ban "is its own form of prejudice," the statement added, "This decision ignored the history and accomplishments of LGBTQ+ peace officers, who made the SFPD and the SFSO more inclusive through their bravery and visibility."

Ford posited a similar argument in support of the ban, ABC News noted, saying in a statement, "Some members of our community, the presence of the police in the parade is difficult for them, given their history with the police department. So we want to honor and make sure that we protect and make people feel safe."

Though the city's officers won't march in the parade as celebrants of the occasion, the force has said it will be there in a professional capacity "for security reasons," ABC noted.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.