Because the police are no longer welcome at New York Pride

Because the police are no longer welcome at New York Pride

The choice has to do with Black Lives Matter. But even with a reflection by the LGBT + community on the need to continue the fight in support of trans identities and ethnic minorities

Photo: Getty Images Lily Law no longer marches to New York Pride. From this year until 2025 the police - Lily Law is the nickname trans women in the 1960s and 1970s gave to officers - are no longer welcome at the LGBT + pride parade. Heritage of Pride, or the organizers, finally decided to exclude the police after years of debate. They did so, they explain in the statement, to ensure a safer space for the community, especially for people of non-Caucasian origin and trans identities, "in times when violence against the most marginalized groups continues to grow".

The long wave of Black Lives Matter thus reached the doors of the Stonewall, the historic pub in Manhattan where on June 27, 1969 the revolt against the police began, which gave rise to the worldwide lgbt + movement. Every year, with Pride, that revolt is celebrated and, from 2021 to 2025, it will do so without uniforms being allowed among the demonstrators. Not only that: the organizers will involve a greater number of private guards to limit the presence of the police at work, thus asking the staff of the New York police department (NYPD) to keep at least a block away.

A heated debate

In a time of cancel culture paranoia someone will decry the choice of activists as a new act of censorship, limitation of freedom of expression to the detriment of dozens, if not hundreds of agents of gay, lesbian, transgender police, or sympathizers with the cause who, paradoxically, will be prohibited from expressing a fundamental part of their identity during the march in support of the freedom to be themselves. A comment published in the New York Times signed by the editorial board, which therefore does not bind the editorial line of the editorial staff, called it a wrong choice and told the story of Ana Arboleda, a lesbian agent who will be prevented from marching with his uniform, as he has been doing for several years.

Preventing officers from demonstrating in uniforms will not make the parade safer, writes the New York Times, but it will certainly frustrate the work of those who, for years, have been strives to make the police more democratic and open to the needs of LGBT + people. Dozens of protest letters came to the newsroom to challenge the comment. In one of them, a protester says: “I would say this to LGBT + agents: you have complex identities. But part of your identity, as a police officer, makes me and other people feel insecure. Demonstrate, but leave your uniforms at home. ”

Part of the debate, therefore, is the debate on police racism and its reformability, of course. But another part questions the LGBT + community in the first person, its history: what this community is, where it is moving towards. And it is natural that this debate takes place in New York because the uprising that conventionally started the movement did not take place in any bar, but at the Stonewall, which had particular patrons. According to hagiography, the revolt was sparked by the launch of a heeled shoe by Sylvia Rivera, a transsexual woman of South American origin, probably a fictional version. Certainly present was Marsha P. Johnson, a drag queen who died years later in unclear circumstances, her body found in the Hudson. And Stormé DeLarverie, a lesbian woman of African American origins who loved to dress in men's suits.

The legacy of Stonewall

What is certain, as historian David Carter writes, in his book Stonewall - The riots that sparked gay revolution, is that "all the evidence available to us leads us to conclude that the Stonewall revolt was instigated and carried out by the most despised and marginal elements of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community". The young gay white males who frequented Greenwich Village used to go to the Julius, often in suits.

The Stonewall, which was run by the mafia and is just a few hundred meters away, was the home of the very young people thrown out of the house, of women disguised as men and men disguised as women, of people of African American origin who had nothing to lose and, after yet another raid by the police, decided to respond with the confrontation. But also with the mockery, the sexual allusion, the provocation. The chronicle stories are full of episodes that tell the irreverence towards police officers who are angry and frightened by the reaction of queer people.

A rift in the movement?

More than 50 years since those days and the lgbt + movement has achieved a great deal from every point of view. But, and it is a dispute that has been circulating in the United States for many years and now also here in Europe, it has obtained it above all for white homosexuals (more males than females), ideally the heirs of those who frequented the Julius. Transgender identities, people discriminated against for the sum of their gender identity or sexual orientation and their ethnicity, people socially and economically on the fringes, have gotten far less and every invitation to respectability and sobriety that punctuates every edition of Pride. it is a cut in the lgbt + community between those who have a body, identity and attitudes that are compliant and accepted by society and those who do not.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that The Fight Continues is the title of the New York parade of this year. The story did not end with egalitarian marriage because discrimination against trans people, ethnic minorities, people with less economic means, still continues. According to the organizers' intention, therefore, saying no to the police is, however debatable, a way of remembering that not the whole community is safe in the territories of social acceptability and that if today a rich gay male has no fear of being stopped by an agent, and indeed you can turn to him to have his safety guaranteed, for many others it is not.

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