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Politics

It Is Unconscionable That The Gay Community Has Ostracized Me Simply Because I Was Born A Cop

NYPD officers patrol before the Queer Liberation March
Kena Betancur/Getty

I grew up in a small Midwestern town where I never knew a single police officer. Around me, there was none of that flamboyant, in-your-face policing that most of you probably take for granted. I didn’t realize you could just plant drugs on somebody and then lock them away for decades. Stopping someone’s car because they had an air freshener on the rear-view was a totally foreign concept. I had no idea what “stop and frisk” even was until I was 12 or 13. (Crazy, right?)

I always knew I was different, though. None of the other kids around me had handcuffs and pepper spray constantly at their side. They didn’t wear blue and gold, with a peaked hat, every single day. I was teased and laughed at and told to stop whenever I cracked the back of somebody’s skull with my baton.

“We don’t do that around here,” they’d taunt.

My journey towards accepting who I am as a cop was a long and arduous one. When I was 16, my parents caught me tampering with evidence in my bedroom and kicked me out. The last thing my dad ever said to me was, “No child of mine is going to be a p*g!” I still remember the stinging tears in my eyes as I turned on my car’s siren and radioed my older cousin, begging for a place to stay.

But it slowly got better. I scraped together enough money to move to New York City, where there are actually places and resources to help people like me. The annual police budget here is over $5 billion. That may not sound like much to firefighters, teachers, or nurses, but for underprivileged police officers like me, it’s a lifeline.

Now, however, the city’s gay community wants me to go back to being ashamed to be a cop. As NYC gears up for a return to the kind of all-out euphoric Pride celebration we haven’t seen since 2019, organizers of Pride events have sought to cancel marginalized police officers like myself. Until at least 2025, proud cops like me won’t be able to wear our uniforms in the parades, and the event will allow on-duty officers to stand around and snicker at trans people “only when absolutely necessary as mandated by city officials.”

That’s right, the rallying cry is “Born This Way,” unless, like me, you were born a cop.

Luckily, the editorial board of The New York Times understands my trauma and is working hard to get the message out. In an article published on Tuesday by the board, they called this action “a misstep by the organizers of Pride.” In the piece, they quoted a lesbian cop named Ana Arboleda, who rightly argued that all aspects of one’s identity must be celebrated and embraced, no matter how heinous, violent, or offensive they may be.

“Being banished for celebrating a part of my identity is not easy for me,” Arboleda said. “Instead of being embraced, they’re throwing me back in the closet.”

What’s next: Conversion therapy for us cops? Laws that won’t let us marry? A nationwide ban on Aviators?

The article continues:

If parades are celebrations of community and history, the Pride parade is also about the joy of belonging — of being part of a people knitted together by shared identity and survival. It wasn’t so long ago that L.G.B.T.Q. people were thrilled to cheer for every out person and ally who would march in the parade, including L.G.B.T.Q. police officers, who often received some of the biggest cheers from onlookers. These police officers were vital in helping make the L.G.B.T.Q. community more visible and varied in a nation slow to overcome old stereotypes and fears. Today, at a time when Republican legislatures are attacking transgender rights across the country, it’s a strange moment for the L.G.B.T.Q. community to be closing the door on some of its own and missing an opportunity to broaden its coalition.

The Times is absolutely correct. It’s frankly shameful to see the gay community so callously sever ties with the police after all we’ve done to raise awareness for LGBTQ issues. Who do they think kidnapped the trans graffiti artist Nikki Stone last summer? Who is it that dutifully enforced the city’s “Walking While Trans” law? I mean, if it wasn’t for police officers like me, the Stonewall Rebellion would never have even happened.

The organizers of Pride have made a mistake. That’s OK! As any cop who’s ever arrested the wrong man or reached for a gun instead of a taser will tell you, shit happens! But now they must own up to it before more police officers get their feelings hurt. If they don’t … well, we know where they live.