SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Law enforcement liaisons to San Diego’s LGBTQ community coming together at Balboa Park with a few meeting for the first time.
Today they're sharing hugs, laughter, love, and gratitude, but it's been a long road leading to this place.
After two years of conversations, listening, learning, and healing the San Diego Pride board voted to allow law enforcement to walk in the Pride parade in July.
A Captain with the Chula Vista Police Department, Phil Collum says it’s great work on all accounts, from the community members to the pride committee to the pride board, to all law enforcement partners for playing a role. He’s proud of everybody.
Collum was a key figure in the healing. He’s here today with his colleagues from SDPD and the Sheriff's department he describes the feelings they all share to be accepted and included.
"Generations before us, it was many years for us to be proud of who we are as a person. But, we're also proud of who we are in our profession."
"I’m proud of who I am as a part of this community and it's really hard for me in my heart to separate those."
"I’m proud of being a member of the LGBTQ community. I’m proud of being a law enforcement officer. I’m proud of my husband. I’m proud of my community. I want to celebrate that entirety with the community, and not try to break them apart," said Captain Phil Collum.
"I know a lot of the department members who aren't members of the LGBTQ community, but are allies, and we're happy to be back as well. And to be honest, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them," said Deputy Mike Gonzales with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
"It’s my first time walking in uniform, so I’m super excited and thrilled with the work we've done to get back to here," Officer Lisa Hartman with the San Diego Police Department said.
"I think that's what it's all about at the end of the day unity and pride," said Deputy Alex Miller.
"I’m proud, you know. I’m proud to be here, to be with everybody. I’m nervous because it's my first time but we're going to have a grand time, yes, we are," said San Diego Police Officer Akilah Coston.
San Diego mayor Todd Gloria is proud of the progress we've made as a community, talking to us at the pride flag in Hillcrest.
"This is the right call by pride," Gloria said.
Gloria says pride by its very essence is about inclusion in the celebration of diversity. And, while the Stonewall riots were a response to police brutality, because of the progress we've made, law enforcement "wants" to march with the community. Going on to say, while there is still work to be done, it's a measure for how far we've come.
"I think, is really a model for how collaborative decision making should be done. Recognizing this is a difficult issue, that there are people with strongly held sentiments, but at the end of the day the conclusion of being inclusive with this parade is the right call," Gloria said.
San Diego Pride executive director Fernando Lopez declined an interview for this story but sent a statement referencing the origin of the Pride movement, standing by all past decisions of the Pride board, and calling the talks over the last couple of years an effort to end discrimination for all, writing: "I assure you that San Diego pride is fully committed to racial and LGBTQ justice. we ask you all to join us in that work 365 days a year, and at our annual pride celebrations. Together we will pursue justice and joy."
Proving "together" sometimes takes work, but builds bonds that bring us forward.
"All the work, and how great it is we've all come together, both community and law enforcement," Hartman added.
"Any way that I can give back to my community, be a part of something that's bigger than myself. That's what I’m here for," said Miller.
In keeping with the joyous moment, there was a little friendly nudge to the singer in the group to represent SDPD.
And officer Akilah Coston did not disappoint. Reminding us the world really is more beautiful when we're brave.
Officer Akilah Coston brought us the National Anthem. “And the home of the brave" to thunderous applause.