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Pride Special

Controversies over bans on LGBTQ+ police from participating in uniform

A growing trend among Pride organizations attempting to restrict police presence at Pride events is gaining momentum

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Metropolitan Police Department officers at the beginning of the 2019 Capital Pride parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – As cities across the U.S. once again hold in-person Pride month festivities after two years of pandemic-related pauses, a growing trend among Pride organizations attempting to restrict police presence at Pride events is gaining momentum.

The trend, which has only grown in recent years, has ignited debate among the LGBTQ+ community and outside groups attempting to balance support for the community with support for local law enforcement.

These calls for an end to police involvement in the events largely stem from a detailed history of discrimination and use of force among police departments toward the LGBTQ+ community and communities of color.

The Stonewall rebellion, during which patrons and local residents protested a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, are largely credited with sparking the modern-day LGBTQ+ rights movement. The narrative set by this history has organizations in some of the country’s largest cities trying to ban uniformed law enforcement personnel from Pride parades and festivals.

Pride groups in San Francisco and other cities have recently engaged in their own efforts to ban uniformed police from marching in their annual parades altogether.

Drawing the ire of San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the city’s police department, San Francisco Pride last month banned police in its annual Pride parade.

“One of the top priorities is that San Francisco Pride remains a positive, celebratory event for all, especially for our Black, trans, and lesbian/gay/queer+ family,” San Francisco Pride said in its statement announcing the ban. “For the 2022 [San Francisco] Pride Parade, [San Francisco] Pride requested that those participating from law enforcement agencies do so out of uniform and in an alternative attire that still represents their organization.”

In announcing their initial decision, San Francisco Pride directly related their reasoning to past harm done by law enforcement to the LGBTQ+ community.

“[San Francisco] Pride remains committed to practicing radical inclusion, practicing harm reduction in our space, and supporting those who are marginalized within our community,” the group stated. “We acknowledge and appreciate the steps that have been taken to heal decades of distrust between law enforcement agencies and the LGBTQ+ communities.”

Although the ban has since been reversed following a compromise between San Francisco Pride and the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance, debate still lingers in other major cities with large LGBTQ+ communities.

New York, Seattle, and Denver are among the cities in which activists have banned or requested an absence of uniformed police presence at Pride events.

NYC Pride announced last year it would prohibit uniformed police officers’ participation in its events through at least 2025.

“NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community,” the group said in a statement. “The steps being taken by the organization challenge law enforcement to acknowledge their harm and to correct course moving forward, in hopes of making an impactful change.”

But the bans are not met with open arms by all, with some believing the trend does more harm than good.

The New York Times Editorial Board characterized NYC Pride’s decision as a “misstep.”

“The organizers are certainly within their rights to reduce the number of armed police officers providing security, but let’s be honest: It’s a poke in the eye at law enforcement more than a meaningful action to address police violence or foster a dialogue about law enforcement reform,” said the board in an editorial. “These moves do nothing to celebrate and demonstrate solidarity within the LGBTQ+ community.”

Even among members of the LGBTQ+ community, opinions on banning police from Pride events remain divided.

In their response to NYC Pride’s ban on uniformed police at Pride, the New York Times Editorial Board cited a 2019 poll of 801 LGBTQ+ Americans conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies and Buzzfeed that found 79 percent of respondents favored having police participation in Pride events.

In D.C., the situation is a bit confusing. The Capital Pride Alliance adopted a policy in 2018 that bans uniformed police from participating in the Pride parade it organizes. The ban remained in place last year, and the Capital Pride Alliance has not publicly stated any change or retraction of the policy.

“In 2018 the decision was made that [Metropolitan Police Department] would not participate as a contingent in the Pride parade, and has not since,” the group said in a 2020 statement. “Going forward, [Capital Pride Alliance] will not permit any uniformed and armed police officers to march in the Pride parade or participate in [Capital Pride Alliance]-sanctioned events.”

But uniformed police did walk at the start of the D.C. Pride parade in 2019 (see photo), raising questions about the policy. Technically, the officers were not part of an official parade contingent, and rather were on duty. But they were seen waving to the crowd with at least one officer carrying a Pride flag.

Going into this year, it remains unclear whether the ban on uniformed police presence in D.C.’s Pride parade will lead to any friction with government officials similar to that seen during the events that played out in San Francisco. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office in a press release said she remains supportive of the efforts being made throughout June to highlight the LGBTQ+ community and intends to march in the city’s Pride parade.

“We are focused, especially this year, on using Pride to bring people back together and to uplift and advance our D.C. values,” Bowser said in the statement. “We are proud that, for years, D.C. has led the nation in supporting LGBTQ+ rights, and together we will keep it that way. We are the District of Pride, and I look forward to seeing people at the return of the Pride Parade on June 11.”

Bowser’s office did not respond to request for further comment regarding the issue.

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Pride Special

The pleasures of Palm Springs Pride are many

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Photo by JPK/Los Angeles Blade

PALM SPRINGS – There is, of course, the obvious element – a strong sense of shared community with hundreds of fellow LGBTQ+ people, living our lives and taking a moment to celebrate all the things that make us both unique and essential within the totality of American culture – that marks any Pride event across the globe; but there’s something special, dare we even say “magical”, about the vibe in this desert city’s timelessly elegant approach to the occasion.

It’s difficult, in fact, to describe the blend of progressive modern sensibility and aspirational small-town idealism that defines the experience. Though Palm Springs is a long-established oasis for Angelenos seeking an escape from the big-city intensity that governs their daily lives, it’s also a comparatively modest municipality in which queer culture interacts with quotidian practicality on a regular basis. That means, for the purposes of Pride, that the city comes together as a unified voice to assert not only the validity of queer experience, but the inextricable part it plays in the daily life of the community – a welcome and valued part of the diverse and inclusive environment in one of Southern California’s most iconic destinations.

Photo by JPK/Los Angeles Blade

This year’s festivities were no exception. Whether it’s because, coming on the cusp of a crucial midterm election, Palm Springs Pride represents an eleventh-hour throw-down against the Trump-ist forces that threaten to undermine most of the hard-won freedoms we’ve come to take for granted, or because it reminds us of the deep well of allied support that exists around our struggle to break free of the stigma and repression of the past, the vibe at this year’s 36th annual festival was a heartening dose of positivism – an unequivocally welcome counterpoint to the worst-case scenarios and doom-laden prognostications dominating our current cultural discourse.

The sense of enthusiastic solidarity that permeated the event can be attributed, at least in part, to the heavy participation of local merchants and organizations – something that is part of any Pride celebration, perhaps, but here taken to a level which made a smalltown festival feel as if it were happening in a major metropolitan hub.

With over 150 exhibitors, there was much to do, see, and sample from the vendors, artists and craftspeople, non-profits, and food and beverage providers on hand; deployed in booths, outdoor lounges, and food trucks across several blocks of the city’s classic downtown corridor on Palm Canyon Drive, these representatives of the community ensured there was no shortage of activity to keep visitors entertained between the weekend’s plethora of musical performances and other scheduled events.

Photo by JPK/Los Angeles Blade

Pride flags, buttons, gear, and other queer-affirming merchandise were available everywhere; opportunities to interact with local organizations – from nudist recreation clubs to live theatre companies to anti-bullying advocacy and support groups – were plentiful; if you were in search of a monkeypox or flu vaccination, those services were available, too, along with plentiful information and resources around other LGBTQ+ health and wellness concerns.

In addition, the location allowed for numerous stores and restaurants lining the streets of the Pride venue – many of them on the Palm Springs “must do” list for tourists and locals alike –  to remain open for business, offering full access without even having to leave the festival’s “Event Zone.”

Photo by JPK/Los Angeles Blade

All of this helped to create a vibrant, diverse, and welcoming atmosphere in which all the colors, sights, and sounds of Pride were on full and constant display – an environment where everyone could feel seen, supported, and appreciated, from out and proud members of the LGBTQ+ community to allies and family, or anywhere in between.

Photo by JPK/Los Angeles Blade

That’s not to say there wasn’t a keen awareness at Palm Springs Pride of the precarious edge on which our queer future teeters. Though the atmosphere within the festival was focused on celebration, there was an aura of grim-but-determined battle-readiness that became most evident, perhaps, in the cheers of support bestowed on openly gay US Congressional candidate Will Rollins by the tightly-packed crowd of spectators as he marched in Sunday morning’s parade.

Alan Uphold, a relative newcomer to Palm Springs who relocated from Los Angeles with husband Jeff Olde just before the pandemic, told the Blade he believed the sense of political urgency was sparked by the recent redistricting process that made the city part of a very “red” political region. “Because of redistricting,” he observed, “Palm Springs was lumped in with the more conservative areas to the west of us that are currently represented by one of the most corrupt, anti-LGBTQ, anti-reproductive freedom, January 6th-denying members in Congress. There’s a real sense of stress here, mixed with cautious optimism that Palm Springs voters could help Will Rollins win, because we CAN NOT be represented by a radical MAGA extremist like Calvert.”

Eva L, a festival attendee from Coachella who told the Blade she came to march with Rollins, also expressed frustration over the redistricting. “I can’t believe residents and politicians in Palm Springs just rolled over and didn’t object to it. Being represented by Calvert is a setback to the peaceful haven that is our community. I think we should demand to be reincorporated. So, I’m here in part just to support Will and hope for the best on Tuesday.”

There were voices in the crowd, too, that served as reminders that – even at Pride – not everyone is on board with progressive ideas about LGBTQ+ acceptance. Roberta C, who was wearing a Bianco for Sheriff campaign badge, told us she doesn’t understand why people need Pride in Palm Springs. “You guys have it easy now – and I realize that can change – but I’m here to be with my nephew who thinks he might be transgender. I’m confused because he’s going to become a woman and says he’s a lesbian. He insists on being called ‘they’.” The Blade offered to provide contact information for Trevor Project as she walked away, wiping a tear from her face as she said with cracking voice, “It’s all too much for me.”

Still, the overall mood of the crowd was festive throughout the weekend, with many people overheard saying it was the best Pride they’ve seen in recent memory. One attendee, Carlos Hernandez, who was visiting Palm Springs and happened upon the event by accident, told us “I can’t believe my luck! Be always wanted to attend Pride in the states and it’s just hard to believe how joyous this day has been so far.”

“Joyous” is, in fact, the word we would also use to describe the occasion, which was ultimately a triumphant declaration of how far we’ve come as a queer community coupled with a fierce recognition of how far we have still to go. It’s that heady mix of emotions that made Palm Springs Pride less remarkable, perhaps, for its party atmosphere and high-voltage entertainment – though those were undeniably part of the event’s success – than for the thousands of little moments, powerful and personal, experienced by those who were there.

Uphold perhaps encapsulated the resonant magic of this phenomenon.

Photo by JPK/Los Angeles Blade

“The thing that Jeff and I love about Palm Springs Pride is that even though the event attracts more than 125,000, it still feels like a smalltown festival,” he told us. “I especially like that the parade features local high school bands and students from local high school students all across the Coachella Valley.”

“When we attended Pride celebrations 25 years ago in WeHo, it was practically an act of subversion and defiance just to show up. That’s why, every year, I get really emotional just seeing these high school kids marching in a Pride parade,” he added.

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Pride Special

This weekend, get your Pride on in Palm Springs

This year’s Pride carries on that tradition with all the colorful, pedestrian-friendly festivities we’ve come to know, love, and expect

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Photo by J.P. King

PALM SPRINGS – It must be said that there are perks to being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and living in Los Angeles.

No, we’re not talking about the plethora of cultural, arts, and entertainment events that take place in our city, or the close proximity to Hollywood and all the glitz and glamour that entails, or the privilege of having WeHo, one of the great queer meccas, right at our doorstep.

We’re not talking about the progressive attitudes and politics that keep us insulated – for the moment, anyway – from the regressive conservatism that threatens our hard-won rights and protections across so much of the rest of our country, and even in large swaths of our state. We’re not even talking about the legendary weather.

All of those things and many more make living here a treat, of course; but for many queer Angelenos, one of the best parts of being a resident is having the option of a weekend escape to Palm Springs – and that becomes an even greater pleasure in November, when the desert city turns even more rainbow-colored than usual for its annual Pride Celebration – which launched a weekend of fun events last night with a dance party in the streets of the already-iconic, newly-dubbed Arenas District.

Since the first Palm Springs Pride was launched in 1986 (it was billed as “Sizzle”), the local LGBTQ+ community has come together to celebrate and to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. Incorporated in 1997 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the festival has grown over the years into a multi-day event that is one of the city’s – and the entire Coachella Valley’s – biggest annual highlights.

This year’s Pride carries on that tradition with all the colorful, pedestrian-friendly festivities we’ve come to know, love, and expect. Highlights of the weekend include:

  • An event zone including multiple stages on Arenas Rd, the new city park, Tahquitz Way, and Palm Canyon Drive.
  • Alcoholic beverages available for purchase inside the festival (no alcohol is permitted beyond the designated event zone).
  • Over 150 exhibitors, non-profit organizations, food trucks, fair food, and beverage vendors.
  • A diverse array of artists, entertainers, outdoor beverage lounges with premium cocktails, wine, and festive food purveyors – along with various items for purchase, including jewelry, snacks, and sweets. 
  • Great shopping, restaurants, clubs, and entertainment venues located along world-famous Palm Canyon Drive.
  • An action-packed Children’s Headquarters (CHQ) space for fun, games, and crafts presented by Nissan.
  • The Pride Youth Zone, open to those 14 to 21, a safe space for queer youth to hang out and meet others within the Pride Festival. Featuring continuous entertainment and activities, free food and drink, youth-only confidential testing, drag and make-up fun, safe sex information, and shade from the sun. All youth are embraced. Presented by US Bank and hosted by Safe Schools Desert Cities, all youth are embraced.
  • A continuous slate of musical performances and dancing, with headliners Todrick Hall (Saturday night) and Pussy Riot (Sunday night) as highlights and a host of other exciting artists – including Tanzer, Polartropica, Tolliver, Betty, and Ballet Folklorico Proyeto Trans Latina, among many others – scheduled across three stages within the festival zone.
  • The colorful Pride Parade, where thousands of spectators can gather under Palm Springs’ famous crystal blue skies and sunshine to cheer and support local organizations, activists, and themed floats along historic Palm Canyon Drive.
Photo by J.P. King

Yes, there’s a lot to do, but a visit to the Palm Springs Pride website can help you sort out the where, when, and who of it all in a few short clicks. You can even download it to your phone as an app for quick and easy access to schedule information once you’re inside the event.

The festivities last through Sunday night, which means there’s still plenty of time to throw on your best Pride gear, get in the car, and make that commute to the desert before it’s all over. If you’re on a budget (and with inflation as it is, who isn’t?), the best news might just be that the festival is a free community event – though it should be noted that gate donations are being accepted at the entry points to help keep Pride free for everyone to attend.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your Pride on!

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Pride Special

Long Beach Pride parade & festival July 8th-10th

The theme is ‘Many voices-one spirit, marking three decades of the annual third largest Pride in California celebrating the LGBTQ+ community

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Courtesy of Long Beach Pride

LONG BEACH – This weekend marks the in-person return of Long Beach Pride after the coronavirus pandemic had halted previous celebrations. The celebration’s theme this year is “Many voices-one spirit,” marking three decades that the annual three-day festival, parade and teen pride- the third largest Pride festival and parade in California, celebrates the LGBTQ+ community.

This year, in addition to the stages and musical entertainment, organizers will be creating multiple activations and attractions encompassing the diversity and interests of Long Beach’s LGBTQ+ community.

Elsa Martinez, the president of the Board of Long Beach Pride was a guest on KTLA’s Morning News Thursday to discuss the upcoming weekend festival which kicks off Friday.

 

For more information visit https://longbeachpride.com/

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Pride Special

Hundreds attend 4th annual South LA Pride celebration

Hosted by Los Angeles City Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson & Herb Wesson, this year’s family-friendly celebration was a “Pride Picnic”

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South LA Pride Chair Jasmyne Cannick & event host Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. (Photo credit Raymond Kwan)

LOS ANGELES – Hundreds attended the 4th annual South LA Pride celebration on Jul. 1 at Norman O. Houston Park in Baldwin Hills.  Hosted by Los Angeles City Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Herb Wesson, this year’s family-friendly celebration was a “Pride Picnic” meant to bring together South LA’s LGBTQ community and their allies for a culturally relevant pride celebration. 

2022 South LA Pride Community Picnic at the Norman O. Houston Park in Los Angeles, California on July 1, 2022
(Photo Credit: Koi Sojer/ Snap’N U Photos)

In addition to Harris-Dawson and Wesson, this year saw the most Black elected officials ever at a pride celebration in Los Angeles including Congresswoman Karen Bass, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, Senator Sydney Kamlager, and more. 

Congresswoman Karen Bass and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
(Photo credit Raymond Kwan)

Journalist and advocate Jasmyne Cannick chaired the planning committee which included a host of community organizations. 

Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson presents Compton Pride founder Princess Murray with a certificate of recognition.
(Photo credit Raymond Kwan)

The 2022 South LA Pride Community Picnic was sponsored in part by Community Coalition, Providence, FOX, AEG, and the LA Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department.

Drag performer Sole Valentine.
(Photo credit Raymond Kwan)

For more information, please visit southlapride.com.

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Pride Special

EN VIDEO: Marchas del orgullo LGBTQ+ en Colombia

Se realizaron celebraciones en Bogotá, Medellín y Pereira

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Miembros de Caribe Afirmativo participan en una marcha del orgullo LGBTQ en Bogotá, Colombia, el 3 de julio de 2022. (Foto cortesía de Caribe Afirmativo)

OrgulloLGBT.co es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Colombia. Esta nota salió en su sitio web.

BOGOTÁ

MEDELLÍN

PEREIRA

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Pride Special

Pride in London celebrates 50, Heartstopper cast members troll protestors

“People in this community have been able to be open & successful, thriving – but also recognise that we can’t be complacent” ~ London’s Mayor

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Heartstopper actors troll anti-LGBTQ protestors at Pride in London 2022 (Screenshot/Twitter)

LONDON – Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of Pride in London, the first was led by the Gay Liberation Front in 1972. According to the BBC more than a million people thronged the streets of the UK’s capital city ranking it as one of the largest LGBTQ+ events in Europe.

In a Sunday interview with BBC Radio, London’s Pride director Chris Joell-Deshields said it was important as it provided a great level of visibility for LGBTQ+ rights. 

“We’re able to provide that form of visibility, unity, quality, that the world can see and it sends a message of solidarity to those persons who may be thinking ‘I can’t be open’, ‘I can’t be visible or I’ll be prosecuted in my country,” he said.

“The battles have not all been won. Yes we’ve had some magnificent achievements, whether or not that’s equal marriage, the repeal of section 28, the lifting of the ban of homosexuals and lesbians in the military, but we’ve still got a journey to go,” he told BBC Radio.

“Every day we’re continuing to have to fight for our trans people and making it a fair life for them. We’re still having to fight for those around the world who live in countries where they can’t be themselves,” Joell-Deshields added.

Reflecting on the masses gathered at Traflagar Square Joell-Deshields noted:

“Yesterday when we were in Trafalgar Square, and we were chanting ‘trans rights are human rights’, we were pushing that so that volume of noise was heard at Downing Street and beyond, to the millions or people on the footprint and thousands on the parade.

“That sends a powerful message to politicians and others that we’re here, we’re proud and loud, and we’re going to continue to fight.

“And there’s the next generation coming along that we need to pass the mantel to. We want them to understand that the fight is not won, we have to continue and the pride platform is a great platform to do that.”

Screenshot/YouTube Pride in London live-stream

Echoing Joell-Deshields, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who was in attendance Saturday told PinkNewsUK the LGBTQ+ community and allies “can’t be complacent” in the fight for equality.

The Mayor stressed that it was important to celebrate the hard won rights that the UK’s LGBTQ+ community has fought for over the last 50 years including the “end of Section 28”, the introduction of same sex marriage and the approval of “laws to protect this community.”

He then pivoted and warned there is still a “lot of campaigning” to be done in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ venue in Oslo, Norway as well as attacks against the trans community in the UK. 

“People in this community have been able to be open and successful, thriving – but also recognise that we can’t be complacent,” Khan said. “There is still a lot of campaigning to be done.”

He continued: “This time last week we saw in Oslo members of this community being attacked – two being killed, many others being injured. 

“We’ve seen trans people in this country being used as pawns by politicians and others in a culture war. 

“So of course, we’ve got to continue protesting, continue campaigning, continue trying to make progress but also celebrate the progress we’ve made,” the mayor said.

Screenshot/YouTube Pride in London live-stream

Joining in to march in parade were cast members of the Netflix hit LGBTQ+ drama series ‘Heartstopper’ including lead actors Kit Connor and Joe Locke, and castmates Jenny Walser, Sebastian Croft, Tobie Donovan, Corinna Brown and Kizzy Edgell.

Alice Oseman the author, illustrator, screenwriter, and executive producer of Heartstopper tweeted:

At one point in the parade the cast stopped and trolled some anti-LGBTQ+ street pastors spouting inflammatory hate speech. Actors Joe Locke, who plays Charlie Spring and Sebastian Croft who plays Ben Hope, can be seen jumping up and down dancing as they displayed their non-verbal disapproval of the protestors bullhorn-delivered messaging.

Sebastian Croft who plays Ben Hope (Center) with Joe Locke, who plays Charlie Spring (Just behind Croft’s left shoulder) trolling anti-LGBTQ+ protestors at London Pride 2022.
(Screenshot/YouTube)

Kit Connor who plays Nick Nelson noted in a Twitter post:

 

A video, shared on Twitter by Sky News journalist Scott Beasley, showed the actors waving the middle finger and loudly singing along to Whitney Houston’s hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” in front of the street preachers.

PinkNewsUK reported that elsewhere in the parade, Connor carried Locke on his back as they walked along the parade route behind a giant Pride flag. The scene was very reminiscent of a Heartstopper doodle that Alice Oseman created for Pride in 2019 that depicted Nick carrying Charlie, who was wearing a colourful flag, on his back.

Locke told the BBC that this was his first Pride ever and said it was “such an honour” to be celebrating “being queer when the world might not be so accepting”. 

“It’s very, very surreal for me,” he said.

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