The Shame Of NYC Pride
We cannot attend a Pride parade that excludes some openly gay people.
In 1998, during the culture war over who should be included in Saint Patrick’s Day parades and marches, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which ran the event in New York City, declined permission for a gay group to be included. The group in that instance was the Gay Officers Action League (G.O.A.L.).
It took until 2015 after a long period of litigation and political pressure for the ban on any groups defined by their sexual orientation to be lifted in New York City — if only for a few gay groups. In 2014, the Boston parade also abandoned its exclusionary policy toward openly gay marchers — only to reverse this stance in 2017 to exclude OutVets, a gay and lesbian and trans veterans’ group, because its logo and banner had — gasp — a rainbow flag on it. Imagine banning a rainbow from an Irish parade. How else do you find a pot of gold?
I riled a lot of my fellow gays by defending freedom of association in an event run by a private group, but I also insisted that the ban on openly gay people was nonetheless bigoted, wrong and should be rescinded. On the latter point, almost no gays disagreed. Over the years, Mayors Dinkins and DeBlasio boycotted the march over its exclusion of gays, or were allowed to march along with an openly gay contingent. (When Dinkins first did this, he was greeted with boos, jeers and was pelted with beer cans.) Other pols boycotted the event periodically: among them the old New York governor, Mario Cuomo, and then-senator Hillary Clinton.
Nothing better illustrates the transformation of the liberal gay rights movement into a crusade against “white supremacy” than the following fact: in the tradition of the Ancient Order of Hibernians that once banned G.O.A.L., NYC Pride organizers are now doing the exact same thing against the exact same group.
Just like the old Saint Patrick’s Day rules, gay cops will be allowed to march — but only, as in the bigoted past, by concealing the fact of their public service, and only if they do not wear their uniform. (Many officers say they feel this is like being forced back into the closet — because it is being forced back into the closet. This is the inversion of Pride.)
This ban doesn’t target cops as such; it targets gay cops. They’re the only ones in the parade itself. I’m not sure I can recall any instance when the gay rights movement previously targeted gay, lesbian and trans people for exclusion. But it does now in New York City.
Here is the rationale: “The sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason. NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community. The steps being taken by the organization challenge law enforcement to acknowledge their harm and to correct course moving forward, in hopes of making an impactful change.”
You can see why such a stance was merited in the 1970s, but half a century later? The NYPD has made huge strides in tackling abuse of gays and lesbians and transgender people — and those advances came out of a constructive dialogue with police leadership. Most important, the presence of openly gay, lesbian and trans officers and detectives has been vital in establishing this positive change.
Maybe you could negotiate a less public presence of NYC cops in guaranteeing safety for the events, something easily accomplished, though rather dangerous in a city that has seen violent crime and hate crimes spike this past year. But why also ban gay cops from marching? Does their exclusion not harm them — wound, ostracize and demonize a group of gay people? Aren’t many of them also trans, or non-white?
The more you delve into this, the more obvious that this is about grandstanding, designed to co-opt hatred of police as a gay value. NYC Pride doesn’t hide their contempt for cops: “NYC Pride does not currently mention, spotlight, interview, or otherwise promote law enforcement across its social media channels, digital content, Pride Guide, or any other owned media. As such, NYC Pride will not allow NYPD to speak at its events or use any NYC Pride platform.” But they will allow speakers to denigrate, smear and attack cops.
The policy is also grotesquely out of touch. The vast majority of gays and lesbians cherish openly gay police, of both sexes, all colors and genders and backgrounds, admire their courage in being open about their sexual orientation, value their importance in dialogue with law enforcement, and are proud of the role they play in dispelling stereotypes. I’ve seen firsthand the professionalism and sacrifices of these people, as so many others have, which is why G.O.A.L. routinely gets the biggest cheers from the crowd every Pride parade.
Polling also shows that 79 percent of gays and lesbians support inclusion of gay cops in the parade, including 77 percent of non-white gay people, and only 8 percent oppose it. It’s the same story with corporations’ floats and sponsorships — a huge majority loves them, even as the leftists who claim to speak for everyone despise capitalism. Many of us also see the police, believe it or not, as vital in countering violence and crime against gay men, lesbians and trans people.
Did NYC Pride consult widely in the community before issuing their fiat? I don’t know for sure, but they list those they consulted in their press release. On their list, there isn’t a single gay cop, or even a single non-leftist. There’s no-one representing the 77 percent of non-white gays who support inclusion; and, of course, no white men or women appear to have been consulted.
So is NYC Pride now as bigoted an organization as the Ancient Order of Hibernians who long ran Saint Patricks’ Day parades? It’s an interesting question. The most revealing point, I think, is that they have both targeted the exact same group for exclusion. And here’s what I think bigotry means: taking a crude, negative view of an entire population, and then using that to discriminate against individuals of that population who have themselves done nothing wrong. That’s what the Irish organizers did to gay cops; and it’s what the far left is doing to gay cops. To punish them as a way to express hatred for all police is as insane as claiming that gay Irish cops somehow tarnish the Irish-American community.
I understand that the gay rights movement will always have a far left component. And they should be fully represented at Pride, as they always have been. I’m also totally fine with all sorts of NSFW floats and outfits and dykes on bikes and leather queens and circuit boys and every other nook and cranny of gay and lesbian exuberance and eccentricity. But if we are to welcome all sorts of gay people, we should also be willing to include every gay person and their friends and family members, regardless of their politics or profession. That means gay service members, gay Republicans, PFLAG supporters and the legions of more restrained and conservative gay people who quietly lead their lives with dignity. Exit polls last November found roughly a quarter of “LGBTQ” voters backed Trump, after all. Their visibility matters too.
It may be that the success of the gay rights movement in removing almost every barrier to gay, lesbian and transgender advancement in the last two decades means that many gays will withdraw from political activism, leaving fringe leftists in complete control again, as they were for so long before the 1990s. And it may be that our political and cultural triumphs leave activists with little left to do, except to fuse with BLM, or advocate the abolition of sex in favor of gender, or assault religious freedom. But they should not be allowed to redefine the gay rights movement as an anti-police movement. And if one of the most visible manifestations of gayness, Pride, becomes a vehicle to recast our values of real diversity and inclusion into a new racial hierarchy and politically-motivated exclusions, then we cannot just stand by and watch.
That’s why it’s important not to let this bigotry succeed. DeBlasio should do what he once did with the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, and boycott. Nor should Andrew Cuomo attend, just as his father refused to, when gays were discriminated against in marches in the recent past.
And the rest of us? The events will be drastically curtailed this year because of Covid, so boycotting the parade is not as big a sacrifice as it might have been. We should stand with our gay brothers and sisters in uniform. The overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians and trans people are, yes, proud of them.
(Note to readers: This is an excerpt of The Weekly Dish. If you’re already a subscriber, click here to read the full version. This week’s issue also includes: my reaction to the denial of tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones and the firing of Emily Wilder; reader dissents over my views on Gaza, the GOP, “defund the police”, and gender differences; a long conversation about global catastrophes with my old friend Niall Ferguson; window views from our old university and Darwin’s old stomping grounds; 10 recommended pieces by other substackers; a timeless quote from James Baldwin; an Yglesias Award from Jim Clyburn; a joyous viral video on parental pride; and the results of the View From Your Window contest — with a new challenge. Subscribe for the full Dish experience!)
New On The Dishcast: Niall Ferguson
Niall is one of my oldest and dearest friends, stretching back to our time at Magdalen College. The prolific historian is out with a new book, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe. One of the hardest convos I’ve yet had. Simply because Niall and I go back so far together, and our friendship is deep, it’s tough to interview him without abandoning objectivity — but I hope I did ok.
For three clips of my conversation with Niall — debating how likely we are screwed as a species; on how the US response to Covid19 differed from its response to the 1957 flu; and on the religious nature of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer — head over to our YouTube page. Listen to the whole episode here.
That link also takes you to a round of reader commentary on the episode with feminist writer Julie Bindel, specifically on her view that sex work is inherently wrong. We also air an email from Dana Beyer, the trans woman and medical doctor we had on the pod last year, pushing back on Bindel’s views on gender and sex. Plus a few more dissents against yours truly. (You can always send your own to email@example.com.)
When A Canceler Is Canceled
What would be the hardest cancellation to oppose? Well, we had a couple of competitors this week. First off, MacArthur genius, Pulitzer darling, and often fervent canceler, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was suddenly told that lifetime tenure as a Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, granted to her by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism, would be reduced to a mere five-year appointment, with tenure possible in 2026.
(Read the whole post here)
The View From Your Window Contest
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The results for the last week’s window are coming in a separate email to subscribers later today.
Among of the best things about the rebooted contest are the incredibly creative postcards crafted every week by one reader in particular. Below is his latest brilliance, based on the photo we posted two weeks ago:
See you next Friday.