As we previously reported, the LGBT Center Orange County is welcoming law enforcement officers marching in Saturday’s Pride parade in downtown Santa Ana.
However, since Jackson Guilfoil’s original report, LGBTQ+ activists have called on the center to reconsider the invitation, prompting LGBT Center OC’s executive director to issue a letter doubling down on keeping cops in the parade.
Tuesday’s “Cops Are Welcome to Walk in OC’s LGBT Parade” included Ms. OC Pride 2007 Hara Alarcon, OC Pride 2019 grand marshal Brit Cervantes and lesbian Laguna Beach police officer Joy Butterfield acknowledging the community’s rocky history with law enforcement but also joining in welcoming cops to join the parade.
However, the following day came an op/ed posted on the Voice of OC website and written by Laura Kanter, who had been the LGBT Center OC’s Policy, Advocacy and Youth Program director from May 2011 through a week before. She began by reminding everyone that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York—incidents that are now considered the first Pride—where mistreatment of gays, including at the hands of police, sparked violent clashes.
“It is unfortunate, therefore, that the Executive Board and Director of the LGBT Center OC have invited uniformed police to march with their Pride contingent, without any staff or community input,” Kanter writes.
“Having uniformed police at Pride is not taking the high road. People will feel threatened and dismissed – people who do not have the option of removing their uniform for the day as an act of true solidarity.”
That was followed by a letter posted Thursday—and also on the Voice of OC site—that was signed by Viet Rainbow of Orange County, VietRISE, APAIT (a division of Special Service for Groups), Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, Chicanxs Unidxs and Resilience OC. Echoing Kanter, the groups also called on the LGBT Center OC to reconsider allowing cops in the parade.
But LGBT Center OC Executive Director Peg Corley essentially doubles down on maintaining the invitation to police in a letter sent to the community today.
“In working with our local law enforcement agencies, we have come to know many officers in Orange County who identify as LGBTQ and allies,” Corley writes. “These officers are helping us move the needle towards equity, inclusion and understanding in their respective departments and on the streets. They too are committed to creating the positive systems change needed in Orange County. Our LGBTQ and ally officers are members of OUR community and at the heart of our Policing Partnership. They march with us at Transgender Day of Remembrance because they honor and feel our collective loss. They march with us in Pride parades because like us, they are marching towards a better future.”
Corley ends by stating of her “inclusive organization for all members of the LGBTQ community” that “as always, we welcome dialogue.”
The full letter follows.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.