In stark contrast to the small group that first marched 52 years ago for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, Sunday’s Pride Parade will be big, loud and brimming with sponsors. These are all beautiful things.
Although gay rights are now firmly established in the American firmament, with a series of laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and a saner Supreme Court having established a right to marriage equality, the march still makes a necessary statement. In many parts of America, freedoms remain under threat. In Florida, a first-grade teacher is now walking on legal eggshells if, seeking to help a student accused of being gay or having lesbian parents, she dares to educate her class about the importance of inclusion .
The rights of transgender people are more widely under threat. We respect attempts to protect women’s competitive sports, but the bigger question is whether the small minority of young people who struggle with their gender identity will be ostracized or given the support they deserve. Too many states choose cruelty in the name of cultural conservatism.
Unfortunately, while Pride organizers exuberantly fly the rainbow flag in the name of inclusion, they will encourage exclusion by banning police officers from marching in uniform. Even before, NYPD Sgt. Charles Cochrane came out as gay in 1981, LGBTQ cops from the Gay Officers Action League – fighting their own battles against prejudice in the ranks – have been a positive presence in the movement. It is a real tragedy that their brothers and sisters, blinded by animosity, show them the back of their hand.
That puts us a big step behind San Francisco, where Pride organizers reversed plans to ban cops after Mayor London Breed threatened to take time out. Here, former cop mayor Adams has voiced his opposition to the policy but, having failed to get organizers to change course, he will walk anyway. If he wanted to stick to the principle, he would dry clean his old NYPD blues and wear them with pride in lower case.