The 1969 Stonewall riots erupted as a protest against police harassment.
And through the years, depending up on the location, there remains a wary-yet-improving relationship between police and the LGBTQ community.
In late-1970s San Francisco, with Harvey Milk on the board of supervisors and George Moscone as mayor, city government challenged police to break the pattern of harassment and abuse of the LGBTQ community. But, after their assassinations, the progress regressed. On trial for their deaths, former supervisor Dan White, also a former police officer, was convicted on voluntary manslaughter and not first-degree murder. The city exploded in the White Night Riots. It took years to build a tolerant police force.
Other American cities eventually followed suit, and it’s not unusual now for police officers and First Responders to be out and proud. We’ve even been charmed with a police-officer marriage proposal at 2016 London Pride. (OK, tears came to our eyes.)
But the LGBTQ relationship with police in Toronto remains a rocky one.
In 1981, the Operation Soap bathhouse raids led to the arrests of more than 300 men. More recently, after the city was rocked by serial murders of gay men, residents criticized the police investigation as slow, despite signs something bad was happening. Thus this year, Toronto Pride officials asked police not to march in their gear in the 2018 parade.