Dear Pride Toronto,
I am writing today to address concerns I have with your recent agreement with Black Lives Matter TO. I am particularly concerned with your willingness to remove all police floats and booths in future parades and community spaces. I should give you my background first.
I am a Toronto Police Service Constable, and a homosexual. I have been on the job eight years. Prior to becoming a Police Officer, I served in the Canadian Armed Forces and completed a tour in Kandahar Afghanistan in 2006-07.
I never “came out” while serving in the military. Though not for fear of persecution, I only told a select few about my orientation. I was still quite young and was simply not ready.
It wasn’t until 2012 that I decided to come out. I began to tell a few peers at work, and soon word spread. I can say with absolute pride that my peers, and my employers/senior management, have never made an inappropriate comment to me. I have never been made to feel discriminated against.
This year, 2016, marked a first for me. My first Pride parade. I would be working, nonetheless it would be my first one in any capacity. Wow, what an event. What a spectacle, a joining of everyone.
The 2016 pride events really opened my eyes to something. The support that I have from my peers and supervisors has been unwavering. When I saw all those floats and officers marching (hundreds), I realized that my employer fully supports this part of me, and so many others like me. As I stood post at Yonge and College, ensuring a safe atmosphere, Chief Mark Saunders came up to me. I had the opportunity to salute him, and I knew that I had a leader who was invested in this celebration of Pride.
LGBTQ cops have struggled for decades. I am fortunate, because it is their struggles in the past, that have made my orientation an irrelevant factor in my workplace interactions. Members of police services, and their employers (like RBC, Telus, Porter, etc) have just as much right to participate as any other group.
Police officers are significantly represented in the LGBTQ community and it would be unacceptable to alienate and discriminate against them and those who support them. They too struggled to gain a place and workplace free from discrimination and bias.
I do not speak for the police, and I do not speak for the LGBTQ community. I speak as an individual, one who saw his first Pride, only to be excluded from the next.
Exclusion does not promote inclusion.