Greater Philadelphia Gay Officer Action League (GOAL) was chosen by Philly Pride as one of our Grand Marshals for the 2016 LGBT Pride Parade on June 12, 2016. After opposition was voiced by disparate individuals and groups, the executive director and several coordinators from Philly Pride met with “Philadelphia Against Police as Pride Grand Marshals 2016” (whose statement can be read here on a Change.Org petition along with GOAL members, State Representative Brian Sims, and the director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, Nellie Fitzpatrick. Philly Pride coordinators then discussed this matter in a regularly scheduled working meeting held immediately thereafter and was prepared to make its decision public Friday, 5/27/16 as it had previously announced. On Friday morning, Philly GOAL then posted a statement on its facebook page declining the award and making any decision by Philly Pride moot. We applaud the actions of Philly GOAL because this certainly avoided the tumult that would have resulted by the threatened actions to “shut down” the 2016 parade. Both Liberty City Democrats and ACT-Up Philadelphia were community groups opposing the GOAL award. Misrepresentations, both intended and inadvertent, have compelled Philly Pride to post this statement.
(1) Philly Pride coordinators and community members interested in PrideDay or OutFest activities meet at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at the William Way LGBT Community Center in open meetings where all things are discussed, including awards for both events. These are freely displayed on our webpage and there is nothing furtive or secretive about the process as alleged. None of the groups or individuals voicing opposition to GOAL attended any of these meetings.
(2) Pressure was placed on the executive director of Philly Pride and its senior advisor to advocate for the rescinding of the GOAL grand marshal award and persuade the Philly Pride coordinators to follow suit. The executive director is the sole employee and staff person of Philly Pride Presents and the senior advisor is merely the longest serving coordinator. There are no executive positions and no officers at Philly Pride Presents concomitant with our desire remain a grassroots organization of equals. Anyone familiar with our operating procedures would know how we operate.
(3) Many allegations were made that this award was somehow insensitive to the position of the Philadelphia Trans community vis-à-vis the Phila. Police Department which is palpably ridiculous. Philly Pride is the only gay pride organization to withdraw from Interpride because of the trans exclusion in its bylaws. Philly Pride showcased our Trans community in our 2015 PrideDay celebration. Our senior advisor sits as a commissioner on the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, the civilian oversight agency for the police department, caused the Nizah Morris matter to be reopened, and wrote the opinion which was highly critical of the PPD. There is no stronger champion for the trans community than Philly Pride and its members.
(4) Assertions were made that this award to the LGBT police officers of Philadelphia was inconsistent with Stonewall, which was primarily a clash between police and the trans community of color. GOAL chapters march in gay pride parades in almost every major metropolitan area of the United States. The New York City GOAL chapter served as grand marshal of New York City’s pride parade and has marched in their parade for at least the last 15 years. Stonewall, for the historically challenged, occurred in New York City. Every gay pride organization readily understands the historical antecedent for our existence.
(5) Make no mistake about the vociferous opposition to the police department expressed by those opposed to the award as expressed by this following tweet from Asa Khalif. The Philadelphia Police Department has long been in the forefront of LGBT sensitivity training and just last year Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel was honored for formulating Police Directive 152, the most enlightened trans police directive in the United States.
(6) Philly Pride remains committed to represent all elements of our diverse LGBT community and all are welcomed to our events. This includes the groups opposed to the GOAL award and most certainly also includes the LGBT members of law enforcement. We thank GOAL for exercising its discretion and therefore avoiding the conflict which could have prevented parade formation, which, after all, has been the desire of anti-LGBT activists who attend our events yearly. Isn’t that ironic?