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‘I have never felt a moment of empowerment and happiness like it’

Two PSNI officers have spoken out about why Belfast Pride matters to them

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PSNI officers have spoken about what taking part in Pride means to them.

PSNI officers have spoken about what taking part in Pride means to them.

PSNI officers have spoken about what taking part in Pride means to them.

PSNI officers have spoken about why taking part in this year’s virtual Pride festival means everything to them.

An official video from the police was released showing the experiences of the Co-Chairs of the Service’s LGBT+ Network.

Constable Paul Bloomer spoke of how taking part in Belfast Pride in 2017, the first time uniformed officers did so, was the happiest moment of his life.

 

“There’s lots of important reasons that police take part in Pride but the personal reasons are always so important,” he said.

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“I take part in pride because when I was growing up I didn’t see anybody like me in the police.

“I didn’t see any gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender police officers growing up. So I used to think that I was maybe the only person like me in Belfast.

“That there wasn’t any LGBT police officers. So it’s really important that we stand out as role models, that we act as role models and that we show the young people in our community that it’s no barrier to entry.

“That you can be a police officer regardless of your sexual orientation or your gender identity.”

Constable Carrie Stewart added: “Pride is a day in which we get to be ourselves. We’re not seeking permission to be somebody else.

“Society has moved, attitudes have changed and laws are being rewritten.

“But there’s values that come with that, and how we treat and help people as a police service.

“Moving forward, that’s what Pride does for me and that then defines us as a police service and it’s how you’re remembered by the community.”

Recalling her most memorable Pride memory, she spoke of walking past Belfast City Hall in uniform and being cheered on by the crowds.

Constable Bloomer said the first Pride the PSNI took part in stood out for him.

“There was a lot of apprehension. We didn’t know how we were going to be received by the public, by the crowds, by anything.

“We were nervous. We walked out of the front gates of Musgrave and we turned the corner.

“We were confronted with the crowd and there was a moment of bated breath and then the cheers came, and they didn’t stop.

“The whole way through the city centre, people cheered us and I have never felt a moment of empowerment and happiness like it.”

A PSNI message at the end of the video also urged all victims of crime to have the confidence to report it. 


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