Come Out With Pride announces cops can march in parade

Orlando Police Department’s Mounted Patrol march in the 2018 Come Out With Pride parade. (Photo by Dylan Todd)

ORLANDO | After holding a virtual town hall Aug. 4, which at times became heated, and speaking with many leaders and organizations in Orlando’s LGBTQ community, Come Out With Pride’s board of directors announced in a statement Aug. 14 that law enforcement officers would be allowed to march in the Pride parade in downtown Orlando Oct. 9.

“We had been in talks with community partners and members for several months leading up to the town hall,” says Tatiana Quiroga, COWP’s executive director. “It was like a tidal wave coming from New York Pride and then we saw the ripples starting to come towards us and that’s when we realized okay, this is going to be a bigger issue. Let’s start reaching out to community members. Let’s start reaching out to community partners to try to figure out how do we go ahead and move forward.”

Through the One Orlando Alliance, COWP held talks with Orange County, the Orlando Police Department and the Central Florida branch of the Gay Officers Action League, as well as reached out to get input from Divas in Dialogue, the Gender Advancement Project and R.I.S.E.

“Those three organizations were very valuable to us because those three organizations are by and for trans women of color, and that is a group in the LGBTQ+ community that is our most vulnerable, our most marginalized, our most disenfranchised and most effected by systematic oppression, systematic racism and violence,” Quiroga says. “So we wanted to make sure that we really took the time and actively listened to those voices and those community leaders.”

Prior to the virtual town hall, COWP also reached out to other Pride organizations to see how they handled the issue of police participating in Pride events as well as University of Central Florida students and organizations who are in support of banning police from Pride celebrations.

“We had separate conversations with all these folks to really be able to hear them, hear their concerns, hear the lived experiences from everyone,” Quiroga says.

GOALcfl released a statement Aug. 16 commending COWP for deciding to include law enforcement in this year’s parade and festival.

“[I]n light of the decision made in other areas to exclude or limit law enforcement participation, this decision shows the unique strength of the Central Florida LGBTQ+ community, both in its ability to overcome challenges and the power of its bonds with its community partners,” Grace Peek-Harris, president of GOALcfl, said in the statement.

In their statement, COWP drew attention to their theme for this year’s Pride celebration, Unified by Pride.

“In a city that witnessed the importance of unity in the wake of overwhelming tragedy, we believe collaboration bonds us. We are committed to the tremendous work ahead, while we acknowledge the progress that has been achieved in the relationship between law enforcement and the Central Florida LGBTQ+ community,” the statement reads.

COWP also committed to build a Community Advisory Committee that will “collaborate with community members to adopt changes to better serve all who attend our parade and festival.”

“We commit to creating more spaces and opportunities for marginalized voices. The fight against social injustice, systemic racism and transphobia must continue. Together, we can work toward equality, happiness, prosperity and security for everyone in our LGBTQ+ community,” COWP stated.

Come Out with Pride’s 2021 parade and festival will take place at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando Oct. 9. For more information on Pride events, go to

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