No Cops At Pride, EVER?

I’d like to discuss this; here seems like a great place to try. Full of responsible adults, who can carry on reasonable conversations.

I was deployed in 2018, so I missed the beginning of the #nocopsatpride movement, but the spur seems to have been the upcoming anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (1969), along with arrest statistics being quoted for POC, especially queer and trans POC.

I was again deployed in 2019, and managed to miss the second year of #nocopsatpride. Looking at articles from June 2019, the same issues are discussed - Stonewall was a riot against the police, and incidents of police violence against queer folks.

Now it’s 2020, and I am finally woke to this thing. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m not asking anyone to change their stance, but I would like to add some shades of grey to consider.

  1. Change takes involvement. Bureaucratic institutions, especially traditionally conservative ones, change slowly. Yet, we can look back on our wins - the fall of DOMA, and the end of DADT - and see that change does happen. However, it happens when the conservative, bureaucratic system is exposed to the pathogen. Those two policies fell because queer people showed ‘regular’ people how regular they could be. The conservative, bureaucratic police department will never change if it’s isolated off.

  2. There are a lot of queer people who wear peace keeping uniforms. We’re disproportionally queer women, working in a male dominated field. We never take off the uniform. Saying no cops at Pride means we are not welcome. Saying that it’s just uniformed officers who are unwelcome, so just take off the uni, doesn’t work. Denying peace officers Pride is needlessly cruel to a lot of women who are fighting to cut misogyny down.

  3. This new quip that all police forces are a direct and unchanged legacy of slave patrols is disingenuous. First, it’s true. On par and equal to all the other institutions, traditions, and legacies that extend from some part of slavery. Saying something has a racist history is disingenuous because nearly everything in Americahas a racist history. Second, institutions do, in fact, change. The USCG is hardly the Revenue Cutter Service. Personally, I’ve yet to take bounty on a pirate ship. Alas.

What’s the point? It’s not particularly to change your mind. The internal problems the policing forces of America must tackle are real. They do end in tragic and unnecessary deaths. I deny nothing. I’d simply like to add a few shades of grey to a slogan that’s pretty easy to roll off the tongue.


I wasn’t aware, but I think it’s a disservice to LGBTQ+ cops (and Coast Guard commanders). Stonewall was a reaction to police-as-mafia, but I’d say the only people who might have a right to say no cops at Pride are the original drag queens and others who finally had had enough. If they’re not pushing it, no one else should be. And I bet they’re not.


It’s not a slogan I’ve spoken before, but a sentiment that I’ve supported. I think the institution itself is more problematic than excluding members of our community.

In my area, a horrifically large percentage of police officers in the force have been accused of domestic violence. How do we expect these same officers to show up to DV calls and protect who needs protecting? Two years ago a member of that same force shot two unarmed young men who were running away, permanently disabling one of them. How can I expect them to not kill black folks in my community?

How much more ‘regular’ does a person have to be before they’re not at risk of police violence?

There is a lot of change that needs to be made, and a lot of communities full of a lot of hurt. When police presences at gatherings mean likely violence, I can understand why groups are saying they’re not welcome.


Fully agreed. The problems exist, and they create confrontations that range from mundane in their banality, to tragic and infuriating.

The solution I proposed aren’t the only ones, or even the best ones. How would you go about fixing what is broken?


I genuinely don’t know. My social and political involvement has been both the most rewarding and most confusing time of my life.

I believe that positive local change flows up - the more people we vote into office and support that uphold our values, the more go on from city to county, state, and federal.

Same goes for legislation. Starting out by battling in the Supreme Court is one way, but individual states who one-by-one pass laws in favor of the people will affect change on the federal level, also in the Supreme Court, as seen in 2015 when gay marriage was legalized.

But here we’re not asking for rights. We’re demanding that our rights be recognized and upheld from the very first encounter and not result in death and imprisonment.

The largest hurdles I see are the police unions. Every time defunding or reforming is suggested, they go on the offensive. I am pro-union, for people and occupations that need protection. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who can convince me that the police forces need protection.


I’ve seen social media posts about defunding a lot recently, and I admit I’m curious what the end goal is.

Is it to lower the number of officers on a force? To me, that seems like a method of control that could backfire.

Allow me the indulgence of an anecdote. Last night I was called out at 2100. I got home at 0100, and stayed up until 0230 getting a little drunk because I’d just finished spending an hour sitting with a new widow while her husband body was pried out of a mud flat. It’s a brutal process, using high pressure and high volume hoses to break the suction. Once we’d got him out, we realized that his cell phone was inside his waders, pushed down around his calf. He’d die, slowly and badly, literally standing on top of his potential salvation. I got up at 0600, and was back on the ship at 0700. I needed to be aboard because my crew has been stripped to absolute minimum staffing needed to maintain mechanical safety. Most people are home, avoiding COVID. I spend the day tired, hung over, and emotionally wrung out. If a situation arose that required split second decision making, I’d be relying on luck and not good sense.

It’s the kind of situation that would play out over and over again, if the goal of defunding is simply to lower the number of officers available. Fewer people, stretched over the same space. Or, less training on things like recognizing inherent bias, or conflict deescalation. A desperate catch-22.


I think that’s the general idea, or to push to de-militarize them.

I agree.

My biggest frustration is that there is no implicit bias training and either the de-escalation training is ineffective, not taken seriously, or not repeated often enough.

There’s also a horrific prioritization of property over lives.

Always! And thank you for sharing it.


Ah, well. Je ne suis pas Americain. But, in Toronto, home of my first and future home prides this battle was decided against the TO police when I first celebrated- I’m sure we can all understand the specific horror of a largely male police force perpetrating the bathhouse raids on lesbian night?

They spent the next 20 years rebuilding trust while ignoring Bruce mcarthur killing our brothers. So we stopped wanting them.

Personally I want individual officers marching in uniform, as many as want to, and not their forces. But I also want them to protect our LGBTQ citizens, our first people, our people of colour and our women. People in general

It’s all bull, our pride org is ist as fuck and pride is canceled anyway

Happy pride pre game


I feel this so hard right now!


Thank you for providing this discussion, it has given me many things to read further on.


I see your preference as imminently reasonable.


I actually disagree with this. Law enforcement is a very dangerous job. Regular hour calls to abusers, one shows up in court to testify against folks that may get out of jail and come find you. Seeing terrible things at work and needing emotional counseling. You work in a workplace with Large store of explosives and guns! Law enforcement dies on the job more than, say, electricians - both have dangerous jobs and need worker advocates. They need labor protections. It is dangerous job.

Part of what unions can help do is actually help protect whistleblowing of members and providing avenues for negotiating with higher ups around issues of discrimination and corruption in the force. It is exactly the kind of job that needs a union.

Some issues we have is with union rules that 1) make it possible for officers to get training on what to say to avoid getting reprimanded for biases and killing civilians - and
2) introduce barriers to justice for victims of crime by members of law enforcement - like 48 no comment periods, etc

I think? Full disclosure I did intern at the police bureau, but was not union represented and was in the financial services division about as far from anything on the ground. as I could be


What’s the problem with the police unions? I’m in the land of no unions for anyone here and so don’t know any details.


It’s easy for unions to twist, and start protecting their own interests above that of the worker. They start to make it difficult to carry on necessary administrative tasks, like discipline and firing, because a challenge to even a bad cop is seen as a challenge to the power of the union.


Will this doesn’t specifically address the pride discussion, I do feel it is very relevant to everything going on today.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Talking to Strangers” investigates many of the issues between police/uniforms and civilian interactions that have resulted unfavourably. Civilians have been taught to act one way, and police officers have been taught another way. While both think what they are doing is “right”, it often ends very badly. It’s about finding that middle ground where we are challenged.

Personally, I think whoever wants to participate in a parade is their choice to celebrate who they are as a human, not their jobs.


I haven’t read Gladwell’s book, so I found this article From the Guardian. A quick read, with what sounds like a good overview of Gladwell’s point.

Who I am as a human, is largely my job. I am on-call 24/7, as are all sworn officers. I think this is true for most of those in uniform. Just consider these two headlines from the standpoint of the average citizen.

“We have two witness. One was an off-duty cop.”
“The driver of the DUI vehicle was an off-duty cop.”

Cops out of uniforms are still cops. Fundamentally. To say no cops at pride excludes them.

I willingly subjected myself to DADT every day, for eight years. I did it of my own free will, I do not deserve a medal or extra accolades. But to see my fellows, who are fighting the same fight I fought be barred as monsters is painful.


This is a really tough issue. Thanks for the discussion.
I have some thoughts but they haven’t fully formed yet.


There are serious cultural problems within many law enforcement groups, particularly local police in many American cities. The whole “blue line” and the pervasive culture of protecting abusers and oppressor - this isn’t imagined. The issue isn’t unions or unionization. It’s how people with a “protect our own” and us vs. them mentality of training are able to turn all tools of power - including but not limited to unions - into the shitshow we have today. The hurt feelings you have related to being in the military and enforcement as your identity - and therefore any critique against it is an attack on you - those are symptoms of the bigger issue of training and mindset.

Saying “not all law enforcement is oppressive and traumatizing of people” misses the entire point. The problem is that the issues are systemic. You are seeing people being barred as monsters because monsters wearing the uniform are systemically being protected by OTHER people wearing the uniform. It’s never been about 1 rogue individual or 2 bad apples. It’s dozens and hundreds of people who are murdering people and thousands more committing other forms of violence against marginalized people without consequences, and the vast majority standing by and defending this.

The place to fight the fight against this from within would be changing the culture and training internally. Unfortunately, this means action and desire to change from people who wield power from the most powerful groups (i.e., cis straight white dudes).

I understand why it’s painful to be caught in the middle or feeling like you’re already trying to fight this culture internally.

If you truly understand the trauma that people feel at the sight of the uniform and why, then you’re capable of understanding why you are 100% welcome to participate as a citizen and individual but not with the policing power of the state. If you don’t understand the trauma other people feel, that strikes me as a point for more listening.


I agree that the place to fight the fight is from within. I’d hazard that we can agree that the people who are pushing that change, through their own presence and actions, are the butch women, and the gay men, and that one guy in your squad who tells his buddies to respect his child’s gender pronouns, because that shit you’re saying ain’t cool, man. The same people who are being told #nocopsatpride.

Perhaps, before we move forward, a clarification of my stance. I’m not advocating that Police Union 537 (insert your own number) be allowed to march behind a banner. I’m not even advocating that individual police officers march in their uniforms. I am saying that cops never stop being cops, in uniform or out of uniform, therefore saying no cops at Pride excludes them. Under those auspices, they cannot even attend. They are being barred, as individuals.

I admit to some emotions about this being about my hurt feelings and inability to understand trauma. I care deeply about my country and her citizens, and I am highly distressed over what is happening. I fully admit there are deep and systemic problems inside many policing forces. I’m sweeping nothing under the rug.

This thread was intended to point out that #nocopsatPride is a hardline stance that’s perhaps a bit too hard; that it’s making the very people who are trying to actually implement change suffer. If it came across as a hurt feeling report, then yes, I need to work on being clear and precise. I like to play with language, and sometimes that comes at the detriment of actual commiunication.


I’ve been thinking about this for a good part of the day, and for me it always comes back down to “who is PRIDE for.”

And PRIDE is to protect and lift up and celebrate those who have and those who continue to work for LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms. And this includes, especially, black and brown LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms which are extra impinged generally.

And right now, cops as a genre aren’t in that group. I’m not saying that individual police officers aren’t in that camp. Or that whole precincts aren’t awesome. Simply that, on the whole, the system what it is, the American police system and PRIDE are at odds.

I think it’s something that every police officer and uniformed person (like yourself) will need to grapple with on an individual basis. Can you (the general you) put aside your cloth for the sake of PRIDE? If so, I imagine you would be welcome but can’t speak for everyone everywhere. I know that separating the person from the duty is hard. But I think that what makes this such a tough question. Because #nocopsatPRIDE isn’t likely to disappear, so it becomes “as a queer person in X force (police force, service member, etc.) how do I attend these events without harming my community.”

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is “who is harmed.”

When police are present, who is harmed?
Queer people and minorities who feel threatened. Queer illegal immigrants who might decide it’s not safe to be visible. People who are vulnerable.

And if police are not present, who is harmed?
Police. Which, unquestionably, contains black and brown people and queer people who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community. There is still harm. But I think the harm is a little less. And certainly towards less vulnerable people.

Does that make sense?