Gay police officer 'disappointed' about being unable to march in uniform at Pride London parade

Constable Anthea Fordyce is a resource officer with the London Police. She is also gay, and wants to march in uniform at Sunday's Pride London parade.

"I just hope that we can move past this bump in the road," said Const. Anthea Fordyce

"We want to continue to take down barriers that people may see with the police and be seen as a huge community partner to all communities," said Const. Anthea Fordyce. (Jennifer Hall/CBC)

London police Const. Anthea Fordyce knows how it feels to live in fear because of her sexuality. Fordyce is gay, and was born in the Republic of Ireland where homosexuality was once illegal. 

"That's a chapter in my life where I couldn't be who I was; I was fearful of identifying myself as a gay person," Fordyce told CBC Radio's London Morning on Friday.

At 19, Fordyce left Ireland to pursue a policing career in the comparatively liberal London, England. That's where she met her wife, also a police officer. The two have marched in uniform at Pride parades in the UK and, later, in Canada—something that Fordyce says felt like a victory.

"We've been to Pride parades all over the world and police being part of that was such an important piece," Fordyce said.

"People recognizing that we are not where we were 50 years ago; we have a police service that supports us, that encourages inclusion and equality."

Fordyce says she was "disappointed" when she heard that London police would not be welcome to march in-uniform or with police vehicles at Sunday's Pride London parade.

In a news release, Pride London Festival president Andrew Rosser said the decision was made in an effort to "remove additional barriers" for those participating. He said the group's members were concerned about the number of uniformed officers in previous parades. 

Chief John Pare said London police will respect the request.

Pride London President Andrew Rosser and London Police Diversity Officer Theresa Allott raising the pride flag at police headquarters in London, Ont. on July 20th, 2017. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)

To Fordyce, the 'large number' of officers should be something to celebrate. She says officers' eagerness to march—regardless of their sexuality—signals that police believe in supporting the Pride community. 

And so, while Fordyce said she thinks it's important to listen to Pride London's concerns, she hopes the decision won't be permanent. 

"I just hope that we can move past this bump in the road, and really work on those relationships," she said.

"We want to continue to take down barriers that people may see with the police, and be seen as a huge community partner to all communities."

For now, Fordyce says being unable to wear her uniform means that, once again, she's hiding a part of herself.

"It's a huge layer of my identity, so I feel like I've been asked to put that piece aside," she said, adding that, as a high school resource officer, she feels a particular commitment to being a role model for students. 

"I always tell them, respect who you are, respect others, treat everyone how you wish to be treated," she said.

"I wouldn't be true to myself or the students that I represent from my schools, if I were to allow myself to not be true to who I am, which is a police officer. I'm proud to wear my uniform and I'm here to help people. I certainly don't want people to be fearful of us."