Photo by Mark Blinch of The Canadian Press
June is Pride month, something LGBT+ people look forward to every year. It’s the season of Pride parades and expressing who we are without shame. When you’re among other queer people, it’s much easier to open up. I can’t wait for the day I can attend a Pride parade and be surrounded by other people like me.
However, with all the anti-police rhetoric going around, there’s now a push to ban cops from Pride. People cite Stonewall, joking that we should revive throwing bricks at police. They spread the notion that all cops are bad, full stop. They bring up the history of the police arresting LGBT+ people simply for being queer. But these takes and assertions betray a lack of understanding about our history and ignore the very real reality that we still need cops to protect us— especially when we’re all gathered together and vulnerable.
I mean, there’s a reason they threw bricks at Stonewall— the bar patrons were literally being rounded up and arrested simply because they were LGBT+. In 1969, it was still illegal for queer people to, well, be queer. The Stonewall Riots began our civil rights movement. The patrons had had enough and finally rebelled. But now, in 2018 America, it’s no longer illegal to be queer. In fact, it hasn’t been for decades. We’re no longer being rounded up and arrested for being who we are (sure, there are always exceptions, but they’re not the rule). It’s a different world.
And, not that it excuses anything, the cops at Stonewall were merely doing their jobs—apprehending criminals and upholding the law. Yes, it was an unjust, unconstitutional law. And yes, many of them (if not all of them) were queerphobic. But, legally, they were in the right. (Morally, of course, it was the queer people.) Fortunately (and thanks to the efforts of people like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera), this is no longer the case. We are no longer considered criminals simply for being who we are.
But that doesn’t mean queerphobia is gone completely. There are many areas throughout the country where these toxic ideas still run rampant. LGBT+ people are still being hurt and murdered for our sexual orientations or gender identities. But that’s part of why we go to Pride— it’s a chance to be ourselves without fear. Unfortunately, with the culture of violence that surrounds us, that isn’t guaranteed.
What if a terrorist so filled with hate decides to attack a Pride parade? What if they attend Pride so they can hide among us before going in for the kill? What if they come just to harass and belittle us? All of these are very real possibilities, things with which we have to be concerned. So who can protect us? Well, how about the people whose very job is to serve and protect?
Listen, I know the justice system is flawed. I know there are corrupt cops. I know racial profiling and police brutality exist. But it’s naïve and harmful to take such a black-and-white stance and maintain that all cops are bad. That people could easily govern and protect themselves without them. Touting such extreme views are not going to help anything, especially since they hold no weight. We need the police. That is just reality.
So yeah, there should be cops at Pride. Hell, there are even queer cops! Are we going to sell them down the river because the organization they work for is broken and imperfect? That sounds like gate-keeping to me. So please, shut up about banning the police from Pride. Quit pretending we don’t need them to protect us from very real threats. And, for the love of god, do not pick up one single brick. Because, if you do, then you’ve made it very clear that you don’t understand a goddamn thing.