On March 23rd, LGBTQ+ bar and business owners, community leaders, members of the LGBTQ Black Coalition, Transgender and POC activists, LGBTQ+ San Diego Police Officers, a top gay FBI Agent, members of the Path to Healing and Safer Communities Plan (made up of LGBTQ+ POC community activists and leaders)
as well as the cochairs of the Pride Board of Directors along with Executive Director Fernando Z. Lopez gathered at Saint Paul’s Cathedral for a meeting to discuss San Diego Pride’s banning of police officers marching with their uniforms/guns in the annual San Diego Pride Parade.
Two years ago, the San Diego Pride Board had banned all San Diego law enforcement agencies from participating in the Pride Parade in uniform (which due to the pandemic was held virtually). The request for the Pride Board to ban uniformed law enforcement came from the LGBTQ Black Coalition, Transgender activists, as well as LGBTQ+ POC activists. The San Diego LGBT Community Center quickly followed suit and banned uniformed officers from entering The Center.
The Pride Board has since changed the ban to not include all law-enforcement agencies, the exceptions being the city attorney, district attorney, FBI, etc. and will welcome San Diego Police and Sheriff officers to march without their uniforms but would be allowed to wear T-shirts identifying themselves as officers.
The San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department have both turned down the Pride proposal and are not planning to march in this years Pride Parade for the first time in over 50 years.
Longtime businessman and community leader Chris Shaw became concerned when word spread that San Diego’s first elected Gay mayor, Todd Gloria, and other elected LGBTQ officeholders may also not march in the parade if the police and sheriff officers were banned. Shaw contacted San Diego Pride Cofounder (1974), City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez to voice his serious concerns. Both Shaw and Commissioner Ramirez called upon San Diego Pride for the March 23rd meeting.
At the meeting, Commissioner Ramirez brought forth a compromise (which has received the support of Mayor Todd Gloria and Police Chief David Nisleit) that the police officers be allowed to march in this year’s Pride Parade in uniform but also carrying signs supporting LGBTQ+ equality, especially Trans rights, LGBTQ+ youth/families, and people of color. Commissioner Ramirez pointed out that no police contingent has ever marched with individual signs being held up supporting pro LGBTQ+ equality. While Ramirez’ compromise received strong support of the LGBTQ+ business and bar owners in attendance, it was not enthusiastically received by the people of color and Transgender activists in attendance, though they appreciated the work behind the compromise, and it being brought forward.
San Diego Pride Executive Director Fernando Z. Lopez committed to present commissioner Ramirez’ proposal to the Pride Board as well as the members of the Path to Healing and Safer Communities Plan.
During the meeting it became very clear that there was a “great divide” between LGBTQ+ Caucasian/white members and community members that are POC and/or Trans. For many in the meeting it was the first time that they had ever heard personal stories of law enforcement harassment and discrimination that included terrorism of LGBTQ+ POC and Trans people. Pride Director Fernando Z. Lopez made passionate remarks calling for more dialogue and focus on the concerns and reality of those LGBTQ+ community members who are POC, Transgender, or non-binary.