Metro Weekly

San Francisco Mayor Will Not March in Pride Parade Due to Ban on Police Uniforms

San Francisco Police Officers' Pride Alliance accuses Pride organizers of forcing them to "closet" part of their identity.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed – Photo: Gage Skidmore.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said she will not march in next month’s Pride parade as long as organizers continue to bar law enforcement officers from wearing their uniforms while marching in the parade.

Parade organizers have advised LGBTQ officers who wish to march in the parade, which is scheduled for June 26, that they will be allowed to march in T-shirts with their law enforcement agency’s logo, but not their professional uniforms with a badge.

Some officers in the San Francisco Police Officers’ Pride Alliance balked at the idea, arguing that the uniform ban forces them to “closet” part of their identity in order to gain acceptance from the wider community — which is at odds with the concept of being an “out” and proud LGBTQ person.

But organizers said that some people in the LGBTQ community, especially those who have had run-ins or negative encounters with police are discomforted or even “triggered” by the sight of officers in uniform.

This can be especially true for people of color and transgender individuals who have encountered discrimination, harassment, or even abuse due to their race, ethnicity, or gender identity and expression.

Breed disagrees with organizers’ decision, and has decided to opt out of the event.

“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,” Breed said in a statement provided to Oakland-based Fox affiliate KTVU. “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.

“Let’s be very clear about who we are talking about: brave women and men who not only have the courage to put on their uniforms and go out and risk their lives every day to serve our city, but who also have the courage to do so as openly out women and men in uniform.”

Breed’s decision to opt-out of the parade highlights a growing controversy regarding Pride events held in many major cities, where organizers have either sought to ban LGBTQ officers from marching in the parade altogether or to ban them from wearing uniforms while at Pride events.

Indianapolis adopted a policy in 2020 barring uniformed officers from all future Prides, and New York City adopted a similar ban last year.

San Francisco’s particular ban was imposed in 2020 following a confrontation at the 2019 Pride Parade when police clashed with protesters who had blocked the parade to protest the involvement of both police and major corporations at Pride events.

Officers arrested several people, and community members were outraged after some of the protesters were allegedly shoved and injured by police. 

Although San Francisco Pride did not take place in person in either 2020 or 2021, the policy barring police from marching in uniform remained in place, and was upheld by Pride organizers this year. 

The San Francisco Police Officers’ Pride Alliance responded to the re-emergence of ban, saying its members would not participate. 

“This committee would not order the leather community to wear polyester at the parade,” the Alliance wrote in a statement. “This committee would not order the drag community to wear flannel. But they have told us, peace officers, that if we wear our uniforms, we may not attend.”

Police marching in the 2013 San Francisco Pride Parade – Photo: Quinn Dombrowski, via Wikimedia

The Alliance also claimed that their efforts to negotiate a resolution with the Pride committee were rebuffed.

“We shared stories of the courage it took to serve as both a peace officer and a member of the LGBTQ+ community,” the statement continued. “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.”

But Suzanne Ford, the interim executive director of San Francisco Pride, pushed back against that assertion.

“We didn’t ask anyone to hide, or not to denote who they were,” Ford said. “We just did not want full uniforms, out of harm reduction to marginalized members of our community.

“[For some] members of our community, the presence of the police in the parade is difficult for them, given their history with the police department. So we want to honor and make sure that we protect and make people feel safe.”

The San Francisco Police Department issued a statement standing by its LGBTQ officers, noting that although police will not march, they will be in attendance to provide security for the event, reports ABC News.

“The San Francisco Police Department is committed to not only serving the diverse communities of San Francisco, but to embracing the diversity of our members,” the statement read. “We recognize the struggles that our LGBTQ+ members have overcome, both within the department as well as outside the department.”

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