As police are banned from city Pride parade, suburbs beckon

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MELVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Police who have been banned from marching in New York City’s Pride parade are instead able to take part in festivities in the suburbs of Long Island.

It’s a twist from a previous era when officers often felt more comfortable marching in the city rather than closer to home where acceptance of gay officers lagged, evident by the fact that they weren’t even allowed to march in uniform in parades in Nassau and Suffolk counties until the early 2000s.

While Pride organizers in New York City recently banned law enforcement groups from marching until at least 2025, organizers on Long Island are inviting cops to participate and are even donating a table for Nassau County police to recruit, Newsday reported.

The first Pride marches took place a year after the 1969 uprising outside Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan, in response to a police raid. The uprising is largely credited with fueling the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

Some experts say the divide between the city and suburbs stems from the roots of the movement and how the two view police in general.

Activists in cities “still view Pride as a protest rooted in the Stonewall uprising against NYC police,” Gary Gates, a retired demographer from UCLA who has studied gay and lesbian issues in the suburbs, told Newsday. “Pride parades are a newer feature of suburban communities and are less a byproduct of protest and more rooted in celebrations of cultural change toward greater acceptance and diversity.”

Suburban residents’ underlying concerns about protecting property can create more support for police, said Karen Tongson, chair of gender and sexuality studies at the University of Southern California.

“It becomes an issue around protecting your stuff — protecting your safety, protecting your family — gay, straight, whatever,” she told the newspaper.

The celebrations in the city and suburbs on June 27 won’t be full-scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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