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Gay Fresno Police Sgt. Shares His Story at Pride Flag Ceremony
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 5 days ago on
June 7, 2024
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Sgt. Matthew Couto, who is Fresno PD's LGBTQ liaison officer, talks about once hiding from fellow officers. He spoke at the Fresno Gay Pride Flag Raising ceremony on Friday June 7, 2024 at City Hall. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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Matthew Couto once hid his true identify from fellow Fresno police officers, afraid of how they might react.

“I remember very vividly enjoying an evening at a gay event called Pink Wednesdays and hiding when officers drove by the patio out of fear that being seen would limit my ability to do the job I love and that is serve the city of Fresno,” the Fresno Police Department sergeant said Friday.

Couto told his story during the fourth annual LGBTQ+ Pride Flag raising ceremony at Fresno City Hall. The city honored Couto with a 2024 Harvey Milk Community Leader award.

Cuoto’s Speech at the Event

Law enforcement’s perception of the gay community has improved since then, Couto said.

He now serves as the department’s LGBTQ liaison officer. His goal is to “bridge the gap” between police and the gay community.’

“No person within our city should feel uncomfortable or afraid and should feel safe calling the police if they are victimized. My other main goal is to help show our Fresno PD family that being an out LGBTQ member is OK, and we will love and support you for who you are,” Couto said.

For the first time, Fresno PD had a float in the Gay Pride parade in the Tower District this year.

Sgt. Matthew Couto shares his story about once hiding from fellow officers at the Fresno Gay Pride Flag Raising ceremony on June 7, 2024 at City Hall. (GV Wire/David Taub)
Fresno elected and community leaders raise the Pride flag at City Hall. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Fourth Annual Flag Raising

For the fourth consecutive year, the city held a Pride flag raising ceremony. Mayor Jerry Dyer, five city councilmembers, and several community members raised the Progress Pride flag.

Robin McGehee, a longtime Fresno gay rights advocate who now serves as Dyer’s LGBT liaison, said the flag raising means visibility.

“It also is for that person who’s closeted to know that they are represented in city government. They don’t need to hide behind a closet of shame, that they are in a fabric of our community that is truly a One Fresno vision,” McGehee said.

Dyer balked at raising the flag at City Hall when it was first proposed in 2021. The Republican and religiously conservative mayor later changed his mind. He has been a friend of the LGBT community ever since, and also rode in the Pride parade last week.

Monte Forkas volunteered at the flag raising, wearing a rainbow tie. He has lived in Fresno for 20 years.

“We are part of that One Fresno. We’re here. Representation. We’re visible. We’re not hiding in the closets anymore. Mayor Dyer has welcomed us and have included us, Forkas said.

Other award recipients included local entertainer El Daña, and activist Chris Jarvis.

Catholic Group Protests

Across the street from City Hall, about six people held a quiet protest, praying and chanting Hail Mary’s.

Richard Badilla said the group is with St. Anthony of Padua church. Friday was also the Feast Day of Our Sacred Heart of Jesus. The timing of the prayer event/protest was intentional.

“We’re here to defend our Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ,” Badilla said. “Marriage is between one man and one woman, and the whole point of marriage is for procreation to have children.”

A group of protesters from a Catholic church pray across the street from a Fresno City Hall Gay Pride flag raising ceremony on Friday, June 7, 2024. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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