SF sheriff, other law enforcement, raise Pride flag

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Monday June 5, 2023
Share this Post:
San Francisco Sheriff's Lieutenant J. Pineda, left, was assisted by sheriff's Deputy B. Staehely in raising the Progress Pride flag June 5 at San Francisco County Jail No. 3. Photo: John Ferrannini
San Francisco Sheriff's Lieutenant J. Pineda, left, was assisted by sheriff's Deputy B. Staehely in raising the Progress Pride flag June 5 at San Francisco County Jail No. 3. Photo: John Ferrannini

The San Francisco Sheriff's Office held its third annual Pride flag raising at county jail No. 3 on Monday, hosting other public safety professionals and first responders in sending a unified message of LGBTQ acceptance in the face of more hostile attitudes elsewhere.

Deputy Sheriff Danilo Quintanilla, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, said that the celebration June 5 reminded him of his first time at San Francisco Pride.

"When I was 18 I remember coming to San Francisco and going to my first Pride event and I was very moved to see not only law enforcement but also firefighters marching in the parade and it gave me courage," Quintanilla said, adding he hopes young people seeing law enforcement expressing allyship "will help another young person's life feel validated."

The sheriff's office first ceremonially raised the Pride flag in 2021 over the county jail, which ironically sits in San Mateo, and not San Francisco, county.

It's the first year that the sheriff's office chose to fly the Progress variation of the Pride flag. It includes black and brown stripes to represent people of color, and the blue, pink and white stripes of the trans flag in a chevron pointing toward the six colors of the rainbow flag.

Sheriff Paul M. Miyamoto, a straight ally who's been the county sheriff since 2020, said that the choice was made not to fly the more common variation of the rainbow flag in an effort to fully reflect "the diversity and inclusivity of our community."

Miyamoto said that Pride happens to be one of the department's primary goals, along with professionalism and service.

"Pride in our core values is not just to share what we do, or how we do it, but who we are," Miyamoto said. "Let's always remember we are representing our community and serving our community in all that we do."

Sheriff's officials were joined by representatives of the San Francisco fire and police departments.

Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter, the public information officer for the fire department, spoke to encourage people to feel safe attending Pride festivities in San Francisco this year. The city has garnered harsh headlines around public safety in recent years for property theft and open-air drug sellers; on the other hand, the United States Department of Homeland Security issued updated guidance last month advising the LGBTQ community to stay cautious in the face of violent rhetoric.

"There's no concern for safety because look at this crowd in front of you," Baxter said, referring to the law enforcement officers and first responders present.

Added Baxter: "We are proud. We are here for you. If you are questioning your place in America, we say we're here. We love you and we will fully embrace you."

San Francisco police Sergeant Kathryn Winters, a trans woman, spoke on behalf of SFPD.

"It's an honor to be able to join the sheriff's department at this small, but important, event," she said. "It wouldn't have happened 20 years ago. It might seem like a small thing but it's a huge thing."

Winters is part of the SFPO Pride Alliance, an affinity group of the department's LGBTQ officers. The alliance and other law enforcement will be in this year's parade, as the Bay Area Reporter reported in April under the same terms as last year after they were almost excluded by the Pride committee's board until gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey and Mayor London Breed said they'd boycott the parade if they were excluded.

The compromise reached last year allowed the city's police, sheriff, and fire departments to march together, with command staff allowed in uniform but without visible weapons. Some adjacent officers were allowed weapons for security, but the largest group had to be out of uniform, in shirts with department logos.

The San Francisco LGBTQ Pride parade is Sunday, June 25, at 10:30 a.m.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.