A gay New York City police officer blasted an LGBTQ group for banning NYPD cops from the city’s annual Pride March and related events — a move that will be in effect until at least 2025.
What’s the background?
Over the weekend, NYC Pride announced the police ban as part of an effort to make LGBTQ individuals feel “safer” and challenge officers to “acknowledge their harm.” The group’s press release argued that the move would “create safer spaces for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities at a time when violence against marginalized groups, specifically BIPOC and trans communities, has continued to escalate.”
What did the police officer who disagrees have to say?
The ban didn’t sit well with Ravi Satkalmi, a gay man who’s deputy director of intelligence analysis for the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau.
So Satkalmi penned an op-ed for the New York Daily News, noting that in June 2019 — while delivering the first-ever security brief to the LGBTQ community in preparation for Pride — he “took the opportunity to publicly acknowledge my identity as a gay man, knowing I had the support of my colleagues and my leadership.”
He added, however, that he didn’t expect that “just two years after NYPD welcomed me out of the closet … Heritage of Pride would effectively try to shove me back in.”
Noting that Heritage of Pride is the organizing body of NYC Pride, Satkalmi said the group “indefensibly decided to ban law enforcement from its events — including the flagship Pride March — until at least 2025. The move makes absolutely clear that one has to choose between being gay or being in law enforcement, recreating for queer officers the unconscionable conundrum that we have fought decades to banish. The irony would be laughable if it wasn’t maddeningly absurd.”
Satkalmi added in his op-ed that previous to that day in 2019, he was involved with the Gay Officers Action League, which “advocates for and implements law enforcement reforms responsive to the needs of LGBTQIA+ officers and public. GOAL’s leadership and support allowed me to finally reconcile my public service with my private self. I took to the stage in 2019 to pay it forward.”
More from Satkalmi’s Daily News op-ed:
I had assumed then that Heritage of Pride, which had been a close partner of GOAL and which relied on the NYPD for the security of their highest-profile event, would support us. Instead, with this ban, it drastically undercut our ability to encourage LGBTQIA+ law enforcement members to stand up and be counted. For a new gay officer or recruit who is struggling with whether to come out, the message is unmistakable: The LGBTQIA+ community will not support you.
The move is self-defeating. There is no progress without people willing to do the work inside of organizations whose cultural inertia makes them resistant to change. Those people, in turn, need the support of the larger LGBTQIA+ community. I know such support exists more broadly. For several years, I’ve marched with GOAL for Pride alongside uniformed and civilian professionals representing a number of domestic and international law enforcement agencies. Each time our presence on the route has been met with deafening cheers, high-fives, and sincere embraces from the community. Given that support, the ban is a bewildering move by Heritage of Pride to drive apart natural partners in change. In an age of meme-derived capital valued in likes, shares and views, the decision is yet another example in which performative politics is mistaken for thoughtful deliberation and real effort.
Satkalmi concluded his piece by declaring that he’s a “gay, non-Christian, person of color, and first-generation American serving with NYPD. People like me exist: those whose personal identity may fly in the face of activists’ expectations of what our role in change should be.”
He added that efforts by Pride officials to keep him “hidden” are “enraging”: “I’ve spent far too long coming out of the closet to be put back in now.”