Pride — light beer, free stuff and a big business at the bars aside — is an annual reminder of the 1969 Stonewall riots, which were a direct response to systemic police abuse at gay bars and in gay communities.
Philly Pride Presents should have never extended an offer to an organization of LGBT police, fire and EMS members to serve as grand marshals of the Pride parade without taking the temperature of the LGBT community. Blame should be assigned to Philly Pride Presents for any embarrassing or awkward situation the members of GOAL were put in that led to their voluntary withdrawal from the parade as marshals.
In a year when states are passing “Blue Lives Matter” bills to take away power from Black Lives Matter, inviting a police-affiliated LGBT group to lead the parade in a majority African-American city was tone-deaf, at best.
Equally important, the Philadelphia Police Department has not done anywhere near enough to demonstrate change or build trust with LGBT communities. GOAL is a grassroots, member-driven organization. Its existence doesn’t represent real institutional change at the Philadelphia Police Department.
Starting with the unsolved homicide of Nizah Morris (for which Seth Williams’ District Attorney’s Office still refuses to release internal records), the PPD has a long way to go in earning LGBT community trust. Until that case is resolved, how can any of us have faith our city’s police actually care about us and are willing to help solve our problems?
After addressing Morris’ death, the PPD needs to uncover and own up to all of the other instances of police abuse or neglect of the LGBT community and address them. Maybe then — after these big changes —GOAL should lead the parade.
Asking GOAL to serve as the grand marshals of the parade was a bad idea and I am really proud that the GOAL members saw the need to withdraw themselves and I am really proud of Liberty City for leading the charge.
Ray Murphy is deputy director of Pennsylvania Voice.