Due to years of confrontations with police at LGBTQ Pride parades, some cities have prohibited police in uniform from marching, including San Francisco, New York and San Diego. However, San Francisco mayor London Breed is now refusing to participate in her city’s Pride parade if police officers who are part of the community cannot march in uniform.
“I’ve made this very hard decision in order to support those members of the LGBTQ community who serve in uniform, in our Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, who have been told they cannot march in uniform and in support of the members of the Fire Department who are refusing to march out of solidarity with their public safety partners,” Breed said in a statement. “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.”
In reaction to the backlash, Suzanne Ford, interim executive director of SF Pride, told the Bay Area Reporter, "This is not a ban; this is merely an invitation to participate with a condition attached."
Ford explained police can participate wearing shirts that indicate they are law enforcement but cannot be in uniform due to some people in the community feeling unsafe. In 2021, the City of San Francisco and the police department settled for $190,000 with a Pride protester who said their constitutional rights were violated by police at a 2019 Pride parade.
But officers concerned about the impact and the message a uniform ban would send are not changing their position.
“We shared stories of the courage it took to serve as both a peace officer and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The board of SF Pride offered only one option: that LGBTQ+ peace officers hang up their uniforms, put them back in the closet, and march in civilian attire,” the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance responded in a statement of their own.
Breed, who is the first Black woman to serve as mayor of San Francisco, also made her position clear and noted that she will not be making an appearance if SF Pride officials do not change their minds.
"I love the Pride Parade, and what it means for our LGBTQ community and for our city. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. However, if the Pride Board does not reverse its decision, I will join our city public safety departments that are not participating in the Pride Parade," Breed said.
June will mark 53 years since the Stonewall uprising in New York’s Greenwich Village, which was led by trans women of color, who had endured harassment and abuse for years against the NYPD, at the famous Stonewall Bar on June 28, 1969. The six days of unrest set the stage for what is widely considered the starting point of the LGBTQ rights movement. Pride marches across the country in June are staged to honor the Stonewall uprising.