Daniel A. Betts
At 5:30 p.m., on Wed. June, 22., a multi-speaker event began at Toronto Police Headquarters on the main floor.
The place was adorned with Pride flags, balloons, and other small accents, intended to endorse the positive message of acceptance the Toronto Police Services holds for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, and 2-Spirited (LGBTQ2S) sector.
Preceding a few words from Toronto Mayor John Tory, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders formally apologized to the LGBTQ2S community for the 1981 Bathhouse Raids that essentially sparked what has become an annual worldwide event known to many as the Gay Pride March and its related activities.
Chief Saunders also apologized for raids on a women's bathhouse during an event known as “Pussy Palace,” which took place in 2000. (For a history on the LGBTQ2S community in Toronto Click Here).
Receiving his apology on behalf of the LGBTQ2S community was long-time activist Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, a man who has played an instrumental role in developing good relations between policing and political groups and how they treat and respect members of the LGBTQ2S Community in the Greater Toronto Area since the 1970's.
Rev. Hawkes also shared a positive message with the more than 200 people attending the event, which included a number of notable figures from the public & private sector.
The Chairman of Toronto Police Services Board, Andrew Pringle, was also there and gave a short speech bearing the same general message of kindness, acceptance and support for members of the LGBTQ2S community that everyone's words held.
Detective Paul MacKrell and retired officer Bonnie Henderson were seen amongst the many people in attendance, Henderson was the first Toronto Police officer to "come out” back in 2002. Chief Saunders closed the talks after awarding $1000 bursaries to four members of the LGBTQ2S community and announcing there would be a gender-neutral washroom in every police station in Toronto, wishing everyone a safe and Happy Pride.