Chief Diaz’s Letter to Seattle Pride Executive Board


June 22, 2022

Krystal Marx, Executive Director, Seattle Pride

Carmen Rivera, Board Member, Seattle Pride

Dear Krystal and Carmen, 

The Seattle Pride Parade draws thousands of people together to celebrate our region’s vibrant and thriving LGBTQIA+ community. Since 1994, the Seattle Police Department’s LGBTQIA+ sworn officers and civilian employees have proudly marched in the parade – in their SPD uniforms and insignia – to celebrate their personal and professional selves. They’ve marched, while acknowledging the pain the policing profession has inflicted on the LGBTQIA+ community in the past, and that all law enforcement can do better, including SPD.   

However, earlier this month, the Executive Board of Seattle Pride announced, “Due to the history of Stonewall Sunday and the fact that Pride was birthed from a riot against police brutality, Seattle Pride will not permit police uniforms, police vehicles, any police insignia, or police propaganda to walk in any parade contingency.”  

The Executive Board’s decision, described as “discriminatory, demeaning, hateful and antiquated” by SPD Missing Persons Unit Detective Aimee LaClaire, has been met with sadness by SPD’s more than 100 LGBTQIA+ officers, commanders, and civilians, many of whom proudly walked in the parade annually with colleagues, family, and friends. The Executive Board’s decision is especially hurtful because other city workers will be allowed to participate in uniforms or insignia that identify their department, but not SPD.  

Lieutenant Douglas Raguso, an 18-year SPD veteran assigned to Operations Command said SPD “would not be where we are today without Stonewall,” citing the department’s progress on LGBTQIA+ representation and rights.  

Detective LaClaire also acknowledges the pain of Stonewall, writing in response to the Executive Board’s decision, “as a lesbian cop, I have embraced the turbulent history of my identities and when they have intersected. I am proud of the progress. When my wife and I got married, when we were finally afforded that privilege, we chose June 28th as our date. This was to honor the gay rights movement and the significance of the Stonewall riots. We did this despite the fact that I am a cop. I would expect the gay pride board members would be evolved enough to allow me to march in the parade despite the fact that I am a cop. In fact, they should honor the progress that has been made by the sacrifices of those before us. They should be proud that there are so many gay members within the rank and file of the Seattle Police Department. They should feel honored that we want to march with the community members we have sworn to protect and serve.”  

Uniformed officers from the Seattle Police Department will staff Sunday’s parade to provide public safety. They will be along the route, working for a hate-free experience for all gathered. SPD officers will also be on high alert, in an effort to neutralize any threats to freedom of expression, as recently seen in Couer d’Alene, Idaho and Anacortes, Washington. But because of the Seattle Pride Executive Board’s decision, SPD employees will respectfully decline to march in the parade as they have for nearly three decades.  

To help reach that decision, Chief Diaz invited SPD’s LGBTQIA+ officers and civilian employees to a meeting last week to share their thoughts. Many expressed extreme disappointment, calling the Executive Board’s decision an attempt to put them “back in the closet” or “other us.” Officers originally from out of state said they applied to SPD knowing they would be welcomed by the department and the City of Seattle. The annual Pride Parade has also provided officers the opportunity to show young LGBTQIA+ people that SPD values them.  

This is an especially crucial time for all of Seattle to see SPD officers who are out and proud LGBTQIA+ members because the department would like to hire hundreds of officers in the next few years. Our visible presence at the Pride Parade shows the department is diverse and welcoming to all. Also, the reporting of Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents continues to rise in our city every year. In 2012, 35 such crimes were reported. In 2021, there were 147. By building relationships, connecting with the LGBTQIA+ community, and reflecting it in our ranks, SPD hopes to more accurately respond to and investigate bias incidents and crimes, and hold accountable those harming the LGTBQIA community.   

SPD LGBTQIA+ employees shared these thoughts about the Executive Board’s decision:   

“I am a Pacific Northwest Native American and I am gay. I also am a police officer and I have dedicated my life to making other people’s lives better, and I risk my own life to ensure that people are safe.  While this is slowly changing, law enforcement is a profession that has been and still is dominated by white, straight, masculine men. While it is easy to see that I am a person of color, knowing that I am gay isn’t something you might see, so I am out and proud about it so that people know I am also gay. I am the change that people have asked for both within the LGBTQ+ community and out.”  

“While nobody claims that the Seattle Police Department has been perfect, we are made up of individuals from the community in which we also live. Every day as society grows and learns, so do we. SPD has been and continues to be a national model for the inclusion of minorities within our ranks –from our civilian rolls to officers who then become supervisors and commanders.”  

“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s constantly being said how inclusive that community is – unless you are a police officer… To go back into the closet and hide what I do, which is a portion of my identity, is so hurtful… I continue to be visible and be that ever-so-important representation within law enforcement because I believe being a visible police officer who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a person of color is more important than the shame some members of my LGBTQ+ community would put on me.”  

Dorian Korieo, SPD’s LGBTQIA+ liaison, who works with hundreds of police agencies across the United States and Canada, wrote: “I work with getting their policies and training up to date with the best practices for when bias or hate crimes are reported to them, and how their agency ensures their staff is properly handling those crimes. I see some agencies with no bias and hate crime policies and training at all, and so few have even a fraction of the policies and training that the Seattle Police Department has had for years.”   

“It is heartbreaking as a human race that we are going backwards in terms of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusivity,” wrote Detective LaClaire. “Those who have a history of being oppressed should know better than anyone how it feels to be discriminated against.”  

The Seattle Police Department celebrates the diversity of all its employees, including its many LGBTQIA+ officers, commanders, and civilians. SPD celebrates the diversity of Seattle, and the yearly festival organized by Seattle Pride, and hopes its Executive Board will again welcome SPD employees for the totality of who they are without judgement or discrimination. To that end, SPD’s LGBTQIA+ employees are open to participate in any conversations necessary to move the department’s relationship with the Seattle Pride Executive Board towards a more inclusive space that welcomes the equitable participation of all.

Sincerely, 

Adrian Z. Diaz

Chief of Police