‘It was love at first sight’: Policemen open up about Pride in London proposal
Two police officers have opened up about getting engaged at Pride at London.
23-year-old PC Sam Philpot proposed to his colleague and partner, PC Martin Coughlan, during the London Pride parade on Saturday.
East London PC Philpot, who joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 2011, had first met 28-year-old PC Coughlan dating online.
The moment of the proposal was caught on camera, and has attracted millions of views .
Sam Philpot said: “For me, it was love at first sight.
“Getting married was mentioned a while ago, and I started to think about it but it was only this week after my last night shift that I decided it was going to happen and I went to buy the ring.
“If you’re going to do it, you have to do it properly.
“I wasn’t out before I met Martin, and even though it was my day off, Martin encouraged me to get involved in the Pride Parade.
“I was nervous at the idea of proposing because I’ve only recently come out. When I asked advice from my senior officers who were in the parade, they were really helpful and talked to me about how I wanted it to be.
“It happened even better than I had imagined, and the crowd reacted amazingly, they seemed pretty pleased for us. People seeing the police as one of them helps to break down barriers, so it’s a good thing, and I’m surprised it’s got as big as it has.”
Martin Coughlan continued: “I did my first parade in 2009, and have volunteered to represent the Met ever since. I’ve also done some work to help increase under-reporting amongst same-sex victims of domestic violence.
“My family was in on the secret, and my mother and best friends were there in the crowd to see it happen.
“For me, it wasn’t expected at all; I only realised it was going to happen at the moment it was happening. It’s surprising how much attention it’s attracted online but there was lots of cheering, photos and videos being taken from the crowds and everyone seemed quite happy for us. I think it’s a great message around the meaning of Pride.”
Inspector Aaron Clarke, who led the Met’s contingent marching in the parade, said: “When my colleagues approached us to ask if we could help, we just couldn’t say no.
“The public have been very wary of Pride because of the recent atrocity in Orlando, and it fitted perfectly with our message around the police being ‘of the people’ and reflecting the communities we serve.
“Many older members of the LGBT community will remember a different style of policing, so it was an honour and a privilege to show them just how much the British Police service has changed and diversified.
“We’re all genuinely delighted to have been a part of Sam and Martin’s special moment, and the crowds who witnessed it, either in person or online, were as equally enthusiastic.”
Since the picture and video were tweeted by the Met, a number of trolls have taken to Twitter to attack the proposal.
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One called the proposal “sick”, and another an “abomination”.
A third tweeted a bible quote about the positive aspects of love, reading: “homosexuality is a sin. It is not to be praised. True love doesn’t delight in evil. 1cor.13:4-8”
The Met’s LGBT Network has said it will take action against the trolling, and tweeted: “Sad to see grossly offensive homophobic trolling about our #marriageproposal but don’t worry we’re the police so we’ll be taking action.”
A large police presence was felt at Pride following the mass shooting at Orlando, Florida’s Pulse gay club, which killed 49 and injured 53.
Earlier this week the Metropolitan Police Chief vowed to keep Pride in London safe – as extra officers are drafted in for security in the wake of a shooting at a gay club in Orlando which left 49 dead and 53 injured.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the head of London’s Metropolitan Police, spoke to press including PinkNews ahead of a meeting with LGBT business leaders, following the attack in Orlando.