NYPD Honors Orlando Victims, Supports LGBT Community with New Pride Patrol SUV
Op-Ed: How a small gesture from a police department gives hope to a people who are continually knocked down—or at least gives hope to me
What’s got you smiling this morning?
Turn on the news today, and you’re flooded with negativity. Hell, log onto Facebook, and you’ll see nothing but anger and closed-mindedness—and maybe a cute puppy picture here and there, if you can stomach scrolling through the arguments and cynicism to find it. We’re living in a world where everyone has an opinion, but not the eyes, ears, or heart to be open to a different perspective. And it’s scary. Just yesterday, voters in the UK opted to leave the European Union because of scare tactics that are eerily similar to those currently being used by Donald Trump, which makes this November all the more frightening for us in the United States. In both situations, the louder, more forceful sides won—the Leave camp in the UK and Trump for the GOP candidacy—showing that sometimes, that which seems improbable is entirely possible.
So what do we have to give us hope? In a world where a man can go into a night club and kill 49 people and injure so many more, how do we keep going? I’m a pretty pessimistic person myself: I’m a 24-year-old gay man recovering from a failed marriage in which my husband was unfaithful for five years, and growing up closeted in an oppressive religion has caused me to question every belief I’ve ever had. Yet I have hope—and that’s because I know that there is still good in the world, there are still good people fighting for what’s right, there are still cute puppy pictures in a sea of negative Facebook posts.
Case in point, just yesterday, the New York Police Department (NYPD) unveiled a new look for one of its patrol SUVs ahead of New York’s Pride this weekend. A small gesture? Yes. But big symbolism? You betcha. Speaking as a gay man who often feels unrepresented and misunderstood by those in power, including those who vow to serve and protect us, it is a gesture of greatest importance. Police relations with the LGBT community have always been rocky; if you don’t know what I mean, I encourage you to do a quick google search for “Stonewall Riots.”
The new NYPD pro-equality patrol vehicle doesn’t just exist to celebrate the Pride parade this Sunday, however. It also carries stickers that say “Our Heart Goes Out to Orlando,” referencing our country’s largest mass shooting to date, which took place earlier this month in a gay club in Orlando, Florida. In this way, the custom-wrapped pride SUV serves to honor those who died pointlessly in Orlando, gay or straight.
But the NYPD pride patrol vehicle is more than just a symbol of improved relations and a memorial for those who died; it is also a staunch reminder of a large police presence at Pride events this upcoming week. Understandably, members of the LGBT community and its allies are at risk in attending these events and are possibly feeling unsafe. As such, the NYPD has gone all-out to offer protection at this event, according to CBSNews.com.
“We have a very robust intelligence operation [beyond the show of force],” William Bratton, New York City’s police commissioner, told CBS correspondent Josh Elliott. “…our ears will be particularly attuned to anything that might relate to this parade.”
I opened this op-ed by asking, “What’s got you smiling this morning?” I’ll close by telling you what’s got me smiling. I woke up this morning, having finished season four of Orange Is the New Black before bed, and while it was one helluva season, I was still frowning from the painful scenes I’d witnessed that reflect all too well some hard truths about our country’s incarceration problems, as well as institutionalized racism. I also woke up, knowing that one of my best friends, who is British and still has family in the UK, would be devastated by the results of the Brexit vote. I woke up, knowing that the second I logged into social media (which I do despite my dislike of what it’s doing to society, to friends and family, and to me) I would see arguments about gun control, the election, gorillas and lions, abortion, gay rights, animal welfare, and religion—all solving nothing.
So what’s got me smiling this morning, despite all that? The thought that the world is not black and white. Despite an ever-growing anti-police sentiment in the US (and despite watching an Orange Is the New Black season that sheds light on severe injustices by those sworn to protect), there are good policemen and -women out there who will protect us regardless of their own personal values and beliefs, because we all are human beings. There are good, responsible gun owners, and there are peaceful Muslims and non-judgmental Christians. There are Trump supporters who are good people, and there are gay men and women who probably aren’t so good (I’m looking at you, ex-husband). I’m smiling because gestures like the one by the NYPD show us that we don’t all have to live our lives representing what society tells us to be. Police don’t have to be foes to the LGBT community, and, despite our inability to agree as a nation on how to prevent future national tragedies, we can all unite as one in the wake of such a tragedy and celebrate what is good in the world.
That’s what’s got me smiling.
Timothy Moore takes his leadership inspiration from Michael Scott, his writing inspiration from Mark Twain, and his dancing inspiration from every drunk white guy at a wedding. When Tim is not writing about cars, he’s working on his novel or reading someone else’s, geeking out over strategy board games, hiking with his pooch, or channeling his inner Linda Belcher over beers with his friends. See more articles by Timothy.