SAN DIEGO — Police officers and other law enforcement officers will be allowed to march in the San Diego Pride parade. This comes two years after organizers banned uniformed officers from participating in the event.
"I'm gonna be happy, just turned up," said San Diego Police Officer “Kiki” Coston.
It will be Coston’s first time taking part in the annual event, which hasn't been held in person since 2019.
"I'm excited that I get to represent who I am. I'm a part of the LGBTQ community and I'm a part of the San Diego Police Department and being able to mesh those two together and represent who I really am, it's an amazing feeling," said Coston.
In 2020, San Diego Pride organizers said uniformed officers could not participate in the Pride parade, which due to the pandemic was held virtually, until departments underwent major changes.
The decision came amid a nationwide push for police reform in the wake of the in-custody death of George Floyd, and was made to hold law enforcement agencies accountable for bias in policing.
Since then, members of Pride's Healing and Safer Communities Committee have continuously met with liaisons from local law enforcement agencies.
Those conversations led to progress, with Pride reversing its decision, though still encouraging officers to wear specialized attire.
San Diego Sheriff's Department Sergeant Michael Gonzales, who served as a liaison, said it's a step in the right direction.
“We will be in full uniform, which we're extremely excited about because this is a second skin for us as somebody who is not just a member of the LGBTQ community, but also in law enforcement,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales's colleague and fellow liaison Alex Miller agreed.
"I think it's a better step for us this year to be able to be involved," said Miller.
Moving forward, San Diego County undersheriff Kelly Martinez said her department is committed to taking part in the Pride parade every year, as it has historically done for decades.
"I think we've built some bridges, and I hope so anyway. It's something for us to participate and show this community that we care and this is that opportunity to do that," said Martinez.
For now though, the focus is on this year's parade, which is not only a chance for everyone to once again celebrate in person, but for some, means so much more.
"It makes me feel proud, that's what it's about, the pride," said Coston.
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