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Chuck Krangle is a gay cop, but he had never marched in Pride or even paid much attention to the event until he was assigned to parade security this year. His reaction was "just, wow." All those people, of every type, every age, every background, walking side by side. "What an eyeopener – the support, the togetherness, the unity."

So when he learned that the activist group Black Lives Matter was demanding a ban on police floats and booths in future Pride events, he had to speak out. His much-circulated open letter to Pride Toronto is a measured but urgent appeal for inclusion.

"I am a Toronto Police Service Constable, and a homosexual," he writes. Not so long ago those words would have been impossible to say. To many in the gay community, the cops were enemies who stormed into bathhouses and treated those inside as criminals. Within the force, gays and lesbians had to hide who they were.

But the police service, as with so many other institutions, has changed. Police contingents have been marching in Pride for years to show they aren't the bad guys any more. Only last month, Chief Mark Saunders made an official statement of regret for the notorious bathhouse raids of 1981.

The service has an LGBTQ liaison officer "responsible for providing community policing support to Toronto Police Service LGBTQ members as well as other stakeholders in the LGBTQ community." It gives out bursaries to LGBTQ youth to help them overcome "the very real challenges they oftentimes face." It joined an effort to "prevent homophobic and transphobic violence among youth and boost reporting of hate crimes." The transformation of the police from enemies to allies has been substantial and sincere, one of proudest passages in its history.

Const. Krangle is 30. He served with the military in Afghanistan, driving an ambulance vehicle, before joining the Toronto police eight years ago. He came out in 2012. Although he stresses that he is speaking only for himself and can't say what others have experienced, he says he has never been the target of an inappropriate remark or any other kind of discrimination in the workplace.

The big police presence in the Pride parade brought it home: He was accepted. "When I saw all those floats and officers marching (hundreds), I realized that my employer fully supports this part of me, and so many others like me," he writes. "As I stood post at Yonge and College, ensuring a safe atmosphere, Chief Mark Saunders came up to me. I had the opportunity to salute him, and I knew that I had a leader who was invested in this celebration of Pride."

How absurd it would be to keep him out of future parades – what a betrayal of the spirit of tolerance that this rainbow city claims to embody. How wrong it would be to drive a wedge between police and the LGBTQ community at a time, after Orlando, when safety is on every mind.

When I talked to Const. Krangle by phone as he prepared to get on his bicycle for a 10 a.m. shift on Wednesday, he said it would seem like a big step backward. Walls, he said, are being torn down. The last thing we should do is build new ones. What we need instead, he told me, is "love and unity." As he puts it in his remarkable letter, "Exclusion does not promote inclusion."

Precisely. The organizers of Pride Toronto should stand up to the police bashing by Black Lives Matter and make it clear that uniformed police are welcome at Pride, floats, booths and all. Mayor John Tory should back them up.

Const. Krangle was inspired by his first Pride parade. Let it be the first of many.

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