Nfld. & Labrador

RNC officer disappointed at St. John's Pride request not to walk in uniform

A gay police officer in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says he's disappointed that organizers of the St. John's Pride Parade have asked him not to march in uniform.
Const. Mike Ghaney, right, said he was disappointed with the Pride Parade request that some police officers not march in uniform. (Submitted by Mike Ghaney)

A gay police officer in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says he's disappointed that organizers of the St. John's pride parade have asked him not to march in uniform.

In an open letter addressed to organizers of the St. John's Pride Parade on Sunday, Const. Mike Ghaney said LGBT people have a "duty" to be visible in their communities.

"When I was old enough to realize that I was gay, I was devastated. I did not have any gay role models," Ghaney wrote in an emotional letter. 

"I wish I had known that gay police officers existed when I was younger. Seeing that a gay individual could have the career they wanted, while living their life openly, would have been life changing for me."

No uniforms requested

Organizers with the St. John's Pride Parade have asked some off-duty police officers not to walk in uniform in the city's upcoming march, planned for July 17.

Parade organizers said in a Facebook post Saturday that they asked the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to send officers as "off-duty community allies," with t-shirts or banners instead of uniforms.

"Ideally not in uniform," they wrote, "as to better showcase strong police support of the LGBTQ community as individuals, and make the Parade more accessible to all."

The RNC said in their own statement that they'd respect that request, though Pride organizers now say there may have been  "miscommunication" between the two sides.

Ghaney said in his letter that participating in parade while uniformed was an important "celebration of progress."

"Hiding LGBT police officers in plain sight at the St. John's pride parade devalues our lived experiences, and is a step backwards in the move towards LGBT equality," he wrote.

Neither side has agreed to speak to CBC about the issue.

Duty to be visible

Ghaney wrote that it was not until after he met openly-gay police officers that he realized he could work on the force.

Since he joined in 2008, he says he has been embraced by his co-workers.

"My presence has not been simply tolerated, but I have been welcomed," he said.

"For me, being gay and a police officer are inseperable."