Raymond Gregory has become the highest ranking openly gay person in one of the nation’s largest sheriff’s office, reports the Press-Enterprise. As captain, Gregory, 45, will oversee sheriff’s jails in Riverside County, California.
As the article notes, relationships between law enforcement officials and the LGBT community have historically been strained. The 1969 Stonewall Riots, the event often considered the beginning of the gay rights movement, was sparked by tensions between the New York police force and the LGBT patrons of the Stonewall Inn. Modern police forces have become more equitable in hiring practices, including being more inclusive of women, minorities, and LGBT people.
Gregory acknowledges the unique position that he is in, and he considers himself as part of a bridge between the LGBT community and the sheriff’s office. He has also said that he would like LGBT people better represented throughout the police force in order to be more like community.
Greg Miraglia, author of the book “Coming Out From Behind the Badge”, says that Gregory’s story is an inspiration. He said that the environment has changed for gay officers since he left the police force in 1978 and compares it to equality for women in the police force. He said, “It's very much the same thing that women went through when they were first hired in the '70s and '80s.” He believes that more officers that come out, the better accepted gay officers will begin to be within the ranks.
Bringing acceptance to the police force is one of Gregory’s goals, and he acknowledges that the sheriff’s office has come a long way.
Last year Gregory orchestrated the Sheriff’s office participating in Palms Springs pride events. The captain, who legally married his longtime partner when California had marriage equality in 2008, got to ride on a float and it became the first time that the Sheriff’s department had participated in Pride events.
On gaining such notable career advancement in a field not necessarily known for their admirable treatment of LGBT people, Gregory said, “It shows that's not a barrier anymore.”