Nothing gets the gay community talking like throwing a little drama in their faces. Here’s the thing, now we have a conversation going, don’t we? That tells me it was the right decision. It was right for Pride St. Louis to want no uniformed officers in the parade, it was right for Mayor Krewson to support the ask, and it was right for the SLPD to support the decision – as difficult as that must have been for them to do, having LGBTQIA officers in their departments.
Does this mean that the Pride Board of Directors hate the cops? NO! Does the mean that the SLPD suddenly completely understands all of the issues surrounding the LGBTQIA community, all its been through, and are ready to be a true ally going forward? Yeah, probably not. What this tells me is that we can finally do what our elders wanted to fifty years ago. This is exactly what throwing that brick was for. They wanted to start a conversation, people. A number of you have been saying this yourselves since this news came out. Well, now you’ve got a conversation. So what are you going to do with it?
A few days ago we heard on national news how the New York Police had apologized for their own department’s actions during the Stonewall riots. Many responses I’ve read were rubber stamped versions of “too little, too late” – and I’m with you on that. You can’t apologize for what someone else does. You can’t. What you can do is to take those actions, learn from them, and do better. We all can.
So let’s look at where we are. Fifty years ago, when the violent uprising took place at the Stonewall Inn between the gay community and the police, history tells us that among a number of LGBT activists, most notably the transgender community was at the forefront of the action. It is for this reason that now – for Stonewall 50 – that Pride St. Louis, and many PrideFests around the globe, have chosen to honor and recognize their transgender sisters and brothers. Pride St. Louis has made an extraordinary gesture in naming Metro Trans Umbrella Group and QTPOC: STL along with the area’s trans and non-binary community as this year’s Grand Marshal. This is a huge honor and unexpected honor and members of the trans community were both taken aback and surprised.
Pretty cool, huh? Nice gesture, right? But, there is still that whole where are we on the police thing. It’s been an issue for years. Fifty years, if you’re trans and you’re counting. I’m not going to get into a list of specific cases where the police could have done better. I’m not going to list the names of transgender individuals who have been murdered and refused to be properly gendered by officers in the media – you can go to Google for all of that. And I am certainly not going to tell you that because of what went down at Stonewall and because I am transgender that I hate the cops – because I don’t. I have many friends behind that badge that I love and greatly respect and it hurts me to know they are pained that they cannot wear the uniform they are proud to serve.
What I do hate to see is how many individuals are so hell bent on pushing their idea of Pride and unity at everyone else that that they are too blind to see any real unity here. If you truly believe that the decision makers behind this made their choices lightly, then you don’t know your Pride St. Louis Board of Directors at all, folks. Let’s trust that they knew what they were doing and that they will be working beyond June 30 so that every PrideFest after this will truly feel like a festival for everyone. Their job doesn’t stop when the festival ends, people.
Instead of asking our local law enforcement to make an empty apology to the transgender and non-binary family here during the Stonewall 50 anniversary, they have simply asked them to step up and work with the community to come together and say, “we see you, we hear you, and we respect you.”
Maybe the rest of us could just this once put down that proverbial brick and turn to one person we don’t know this Pride season – whether they be wearing the badge and blue, or are draped in one of the many Pride flags, or may simply be showing up this year to see what this whole Pride thing is all about – and say to them, “I see you, I hear you, and I respect you.”