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Metro Trans Umbrella Group Leaves St. Louis PrideFest Parade Over Police Marching In Uniform

From left, Metro Trans Umbrella Group's Sayer Johnson and Pride St. Louis' Jordan Braxton joined Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The executive director of the Metro Trans Umbrella Group announced Wednesday on St. Louis on the Air that the organization will not be participating in this Sunday’s Pride parade.

“The Metro Trans Umbrella Group is removing ourselves as grand marshal of the St. Louis Pride parade,” Sayer Johnson told St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann. He said the group’s members are disappointed that PrideFest will allow uniformed police officers to march in the parade.

MTUG’s decision follows its historic selection as the parade's grand marshal– a break from tradition, as it placed a community rather than an individual into that role. It also follows a decision by Pride St. Louis to allow officers to march in uniform, a reversal of an earlier announcement that they would not be allowed to.

Initially, Pride St. Louis had based its decision against including uniformed officers on “respect to the honoring of Stonewall 50,” when nine New York City police officers raided the Stonewall Inn in 1969, resulting in several days of confrontation between officers and members of the LGBTQ community. 

“I’m disappointed that they’re not going to be grand marshals, but I respect their decision,” Pride St. Louis’ Jordan Braxton, director of diversity and inclusion, said on the talk show.

Johnson said the decision came after hundreds of conversations with stakeholders and constituents.

“A parade is great. Fantastic. It’s a couple of hours out of one day of the year and, you know, Pride for many of us marks a year of survival, not necessarily a celebration,” he said. “And so it’s disappointing, and I hope that it helps shift the conversation away from all of these things, because really what we’re doing is we’re struggling to get our basic needs met as a community. Survival is where we’re at.”

Braxton echoed that sentiment.

“We’ve opened up a larger conversation,” she said. “The conversation that we shed light on, that people in the trans community don’t have equal housing ... food, lodging, health care. So we started that conversation, and hopefully moving forward we can continue these conversations, and have the entire St. Louis community understand the needs.”

Listen to the full discussion:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Alexis Moore. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Alexis Moore was St. Louis Public Radio's production intern with St. Louis on the Air during the summer of 2019. Alexis completed her undergraduate education at Arizona State University, emphasizing in History and Film/Media Production. While there, she served as a writing tutor within Barrett, The Honors College and studied abroad at the University of Ghana.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.