Just a quick follow-up to my previous post, in which I went on and on about the controversy surrounding the presence of police at the OutReach Pride parade this Sunday. To sum up the background of that post, those who are trans/queer people of color (or at least the allies of TQPOCs) raised ongoing concerns that the presence of police groups, particularly those from the Madison Police Department, would create an unsafe and unwelcoming situation. Some even threatened to boycott the parade and stage their own counter-protest. Long story short, OutReach (the organization that stages the parade) withdrew the permits of the MPD and UW—Madison Police Departments’ LGBT employee resource groups; the members of those groups can still march on Sunday, just in a civilian capacity (i.e. out of uniform and not under a police banner).
When reading about the controversy, one would think that OutReach and MPD were ignorant of TQPOCs’ concerns. On the contrary. On Monday of this week, a previously scheduled listening session took place at the Madison Public Library. No, I wasn’t in attendance (I’ve my own schedule, you know), but judging from this recap of the event, the conversation that took place was honest, sincere… and at times heated (folks still have concerns after all). Also, the comments of MPD members who spoke at the listening session suggest that they are respectful and understanding of OutReach’s decision to withdraw their applications. But no matter what one’s opinion about the issue, at least you may agree to a quote from that article said by someone in attendance: “It’s so energizing to see a room of people who care about an issue, regardless of whether you agree or disagree.”
(Quick side note: The recap link in the above paragraph was from Our Lives Magazine, who also provided a long, thorough, and balanced report on OutReach’s decision to withdraw the police units’ parade entries. I didn’t get to share Our Lives‘ report in my last post, but I’ll share it with you at this link. Really, check out that report, for it’s well written and a must-read.)
Also, lest someone think this controversy over the police at OutReach Pride meant that OutReach was shutting TQPOCs out of pride weekend. Think again. One of the events related to this weekend’s parade is a “QPOC Pride Brunch.” Previously scheduled (I presume), the event is sponsored in part by OutReach and hosted by Our Lives, and is “a free brunch specifically for LGBTQ people of Color and their close friends, featuring entertainment, hors d’oervres, and more.” The event will take place on midday Saturday (11AM-3PM) at Robina Courtyard on East Washington Street. There’s some information on the event’s Facebook page. A couple of notes about said Facebook page: The map included is for a “Robina Courtyard” road southwest of Peoria, Illinois (nowhere near Madison, obviously). Also, the page’s comments, as of this writing, does have a couple of “sorry I can’t attend” comments, but thankfully they’re not related to the recent police controversy. Chalk one up for civility online.
(Oh, another side note: If you’re in Madison and can’t make it to the QPOC Pride Brunch, there’s a whole bevy of other pride-related events at this link.)
One more thought, or actually a recommendation to those taking part in OutReach Pride. And yes, it’s a thought I mentioned previously yet I cannot stress enough: Let’s get along with each other on Sunday, okay? The controversy has been put to the side for now, and Outreach has made their decision. The theme of this year’s OutReach Pride is “Stand Up, Speak Out, Fight Back!” That means that, yes, it’s good to stand up and speak out and fight back against those who threaten our well being and ability to live openly as our true selves. But know that while some of those oppressors do wear a police uniform, that doesn’t apply to every “boy in blue.” And don’t forget that there are those who’ve never worn a police uniform or a military uniform (i.e. You Know Who) but are champing at the bit to oppress us and take away our hard-fought, hard-earned rights.
So rather than rant and rave at each other, let’s turn our rage toward those who oppress us by standing up and speaking out and fighting back against their evil actions. And let’s make Sunday a day of standing strong and celebrating who we are. See you there!