Dear Calgary Police Service:
I just heard that you have been excluded from marching in uniform in Calgary’s Pride parade this year. You are allowed to march only in civilian clothing but without police vehicles or floats or sidearms. I have read that you plan to attend despite these restrictions to further relations with the LGTBQ community. God bless you for that. In your shoes (are you allowed to wear shoes?), I’d boycott the event altogether.
The Pride organizers still want you there on the sidelines, in uniform, ensuring that everyone is safe. Good thing, since were I to attend, you might have to restrain me from telling the Pride organizers how I feel about their decision.
This decision of exclusion has been made to spare persons of colour the post-traumatic stress that could be triggered by seeing police in uniform. I feel for these people, and I understand relations between police and these groups have been strained, but I do not understand how eliminating your uniforms will aid relations. These marginalized groups will still see you in uniform on the sidelines that day, and on other days patrolling the streets.
I wish I could talk directly to these groups because, as a psychologist, I know this decision will not help them to resolve their PTSD. In fact, the lack of uniformed police presence at this event may only exacerbate these feelings. PTSD is an anxiety disorder not to be taken lightly. Traumatic things happen to people, and, for some, PTSD can be the result. By excluding you, these groups lose the opportunity to see that police are not to be feared in all situations, that they are marching in support of the whole LGTBQ community, of which these groups are a part.
This decision has been made by Calgary Pride organizers, but I do not believe it reflects general consensus of the LGTBQ community. I, for one, do not support it, nor does my wife, nor do any of the Calgarians, LGTBQ or not, that I have spoken with. I have expressed my discontent to Pride Calgary but received only a form letter in response.
I feel sad that I will not be at the Pride parade this year. For many years, I’ve looked forward to attending with friends and supporters. I am there on the sidelines, hooting and hollering and stealing candy from children. I’m also known to tear up when I see all of the brave marchers, especially those in uniform. Once a very kind female officer noticed my tears and stopped to ask me if I was okay. I had to explain to her how grateful I was for CPS’s attendance.
Perhaps I am most sad because, in the past and continuing to this day, LGTBQ people are mocked and maligned and discriminated against for dressing or acting in a way that is not considered within the norm. We have fought so hard for inclusion and Canada especially has made great strides. Sadly (and ironically), this no-uniforms decision is one of exclusion. You deserve better.
Calgarians of all colours and races and orientations are grateful for your service. If our Pride party, now relocating to the backyard, gets out of hand, I’m glad to know that I can always call you.