Our allies can come from the most unexpected places & change the daily lives of gay people through the dignity that they bring to the work they do.
Sgt. Blackstone was born in Montana on this day in1924. After finishing high school, he served in the Navy during World War II. He joined the San Francisco Police Department in 1949.
Sgt. Blackstone was a pioneer of community-based policing, once remarking that being a cop was like being "a social worker with a badge." In 1962, after the "gayola" scandal involving police demanding payoffs from gay bar owners, he was appointed the first SFPD liaison to the gay community. He was present during a police raid of a gay New Year's ball in 1965, where an officer shoved his wife, assuming she was a drag queen.
Asked why he, as a straight man, took such an active role on behalf of gay & transgender people, Sgt. Blackstone replied, "Because it was the right thing to do."
Blackstone was the 2006 San Francisco Pride Parade Grand Marshal. He also received commendations from the California State Senate, the California State Assembly, & the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
He says he was just doing his job, although at the time police brass gave him no support.
Elliot Blackstone planted a seed to grow San Francisco into a city that was welcoming & a place that all people are treated equal. He became the first retired officer to receive a commendation from the Police Commission. Blackstone was the first police liaison to the GLBT community in 1962, after a bribery scandal involving gay bars & the police. At that time, the issue for gay rights at the department was different.
Blackstone: "They hated me. They thought it was wrong for a policeman to associate with these faggots, but they needed help, so I helped."
Blackstone worked with what were then called "homophile" organizations, such as the Mattachine Society & the Daughters of Bilitis, to end police entrapment of gay men in public bathrooms. He trained police recruits on how to handle the community by bringing in gays, lesbians & transgender people to talk about their lives.
He helped establish an anti-poverty office in the Tenderloin that employed transsexual workers. When the city was unwilling to pay for hormones for transgender people, Blackstone took up a donation at his church & distributed the drugs for free. He attended gay galas and was the face of the department for the community. He was a pioneer & somebody whose amazing accomplishments have been forgotten for too long.
Blackstone fought against prejudice & stigma at a time when the rights of gays were ignored, & helped to create a ripple of positive change.
Elliot Blackstone died in late October 2006 at the age of 82.
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