Firefighters | Gay Pride | News | San Diego

San Diego Firefighters Sue Dept for Gay Pride Sexual Harassment

Four of San Diego's city firefighters have filed a request with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing asking for the right to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department after they say they were forced to participate in the San Diego gay pride parade that took place on July 21. The firefighters say that while taking part in the parade they were sexually harassed, according to 10news:

Sdfirerescue"During the parade, the firefighters said, bystanders taunted them with sexually explicit comments and colleagues called to tease them for participating in the event. 'I was forced into a situation that would compromise what I hold true and what I believe in,' engineer Jason Hewitt said in a statement. The four contend the department failed to protect them from sexual harassment and didn't immediately act to correct the situation, Stirling said."

JarmanFire Chief Tracy Jarman, a lesbian, has apologized to Fire Capt. John Ghiotto, Engineer Jason Hewett and firefighters Chad Allison and Alex Kane and says she's having the the city's Equal Employment Investigative Office take a look at the situation, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The city's firefighters have participated in the gay pride parade for the last 15 years without incident.

Says CBS8: "They're trained to risk their lives battling fires, but some local firefighters suggest nothing could have prepared them for the insults and obscenities they faced at this year's gay pride parade."

The Union-Tribune reports: "In statements filed with the state, the men said that along the parade route, they were subjected to offensive lewd comments such as, 'You can put out my fire,' and saw men blowing kisses at them. Then, they said, they had to endure protesters who yelled at them that homosexuality was a sin. Some comments were too risque to print."

So, according to the paper, they had to endure men complimenting them for their looks, as well as experience first-hand the religious bigotry gay people must endure every day.

Poor things.

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  1. How are the people on the street who are catcalling the firefighters supposed to know that they dont want to be there? Anybody watching a parade, assumes that the people in the parade want to be there. I go to an auction every year for the Seattle Mens Chorus and one of the auction items is a chance to judge next years Seattle Firefighter such, the half naked fire fighters are walking around selling the calendar all night..Should I assume that they are friendly and will take pictures with gay men and participate in the "inappropriate" things that go on all night? or should i assume that they're being forced to be there and we shouldnt talk to them? Everybody knows what a gay pride parade is. Everybody who is hot gets yelled at and complimented, whether it be a fireman, a PFLAG dad, or a political candidate.

    Posted by: kitkats99 | Aug 7, 2007 12:14:42 PM

  2. Why not hire gay firefighters? We're not afraid of handling hoses.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 7, 2007 12:17:01 PM

  3. This is a horrible travesty. Those poor firemen having to work this parade - well it makes it seem like the fire department actually SUPPORTS this type of sinful behavior. I don't care if the city counsel endorsed this parade, the city employees should have told the city that they don't care, their good morals and wholesome values are more important than what the city counsel wants. We answer to God, not some politicians, just because they sign our paychecks.

    It's just like sending a fire truck to the lotus festival. I makes the city look bad showing favoratism to those asian immigrants - and you know that if they're at a "lotus festival" then they aren't Christians. Good God-fearing men shouldn't have to support paganism. And besides they're probably illegal anyway.

    And what about firefighters at the Martin Luther King Day Parade? Our cities shouldn't be made to pretend that we support these ruffians. And don't tell me that you don't know that most of them are criminals or welfare mothers. Good blacks work hard and don't take days off to go parade around yelling about civil rights.

    I think it's only right and fair that good Christian firemen should not have to be part of civic events. And if they go, they should be able to show their contempt for the sinners without being subjected to their violent and vile responses. How dare these "pride" people become upset when the firemen made it known that THEY didn't support their display of depravity? They are just abominations and they don't deserve respect from city employees.

    In fact, I think the whole fire department should show its solidarity with these four brave victims and refuse to offer fire protection to that den of iniquity, Hillcrest. Just let it burn. These homosexuals need to learn that civic services are for straight white Christians, not for the whole city. And the city should never show support for civic parades of its diverse populations. No!! We have to stand for something, don't we?

    Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Aug 7, 2007 12:20:33 PM

  4. No one should have to face discrimination or harassment at work. The firemen had every right to refuse to be part of the parade. Since I don't know the particulars on whether they were "compelled" by their higher-ups I'll assume they did not know what they were in for. Fact is, many gay men act piggish at pride events because it's a time where they can let it all out. You take it in, laugh at it, and move on. I think that these firemen are more concerned with the fact they were "forced" to participate than they are with what actually happened at the parade. They're just using it as an excuse to fight back against being pressed into service by their supervisors.

    Posted by: Mike | Aug 7, 2007 12:28:05 PM

  5. Hey there, guys. It would be great if you took your rather coherent and intelligent comments (and I'm being serious) to the San Diego Union Tribune article, because they bigots are writing "fag" all over the place. Thanks.

    Posted by: ted | Aug 7, 2007 12:29:35 PM

  6. I agree KitKat... so I think it falls back if this was really a "direct order."

    I guess we'll have to wait to see as more info comes out as to how mandatory this was. I mean, they obviously have more than 4 firemen in SD... how did these specific ones get picked?

    Posted by: gabriel | Aug 7, 2007 12:31:51 PM

  7. Timothy Kincaid....HA HA HA.
    Great impresion of bigoted,homophobic,narrow minded,ill educated pond scum.
    After I got the bile of your writing's out of my throat...I laughed and took the ranting's as a joke...gone terrible wrong of course.
    Because I'll bet some one's going to believe that this twisted sick opinion is more than a joke.
    You keep sucking back on that moonshine....
    your sister/wife will have your vidal's ready for you soon.
    HA HA HA

    Posted by: griffin1573 | Aug 7, 2007 1:06:32 PM

  8. They got picked because their station is in Hillcrest, which is the gayest neighborhood and where the parade is held. So, you'd think they'd be able to handle the gays. And does it matter if they were ordered to participate? Those giving the orders certainly didn't harass the firemen.

    Posted by: ted | Aug 7, 2007 1:06:34 PM

  9. Timothy Kincaid, you can drop dead. As for the firefighters, grow up and get over it...

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Aug 7, 2007 1:06:58 PM

  10. Um, correct me if I'm wrong, Mr. Kincaid, but your comment was satire, right? (And pretty good satire, I thought.)

    Posted by: ted | Aug 7, 2007 1:11:53 PM

  11. They could have asked for gay firemen to be in this parade and then no problem. Sexual harassment is bad no matter whether one is gay or not !!

    Posted by: Paul | Aug 7, 2007 1:13:22 PM

  12. Robert in WeHo,

    C'mon guy. I thought that "...civic services are for straight white Christians, not for the whole city." was going to clue you in to the joke if you hadn't got it by then.

    For those who keep saying that they should have had volunteers.... ummm, they did. That crew had to drop out on the last day because of a family death.

    They were replaced with the crew located in Hillcrest, the local gay neighborhood.

    My question is this: why is the Hillcrest fire station comprised of homophobes? If you cannot show respect for the local citizens - whoever they may be, gay or straight, black white asian or hispanic, rich or poor - you shouldn't be working in that station. In fact, if you cannot show respect for the diverse populations of the city, your ass should be fired.

    Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Aug 7, 2007 1:35:01 PM

  13. Of course, nobody should be forced to participate in an off-the-job parade of any kind. Basic stuff here. But I'm sure it was a revelatory lesson to experience what it feels like to be on the receiving end of unwanted sexual attention -- like what some women contend with regularly on the job. And also to have fundie haters spewing spittle at you as if you were a bad, wrong person.

    One straight female friend of mine once opined that the homophobia of some straight men may be a fear of rape. Gay men present the only threat of that nature to straight men.

    In any case, I have a policy of being empathic around straight men, which includes not making sexual comments about them, and not trying to hit on them. I hope that if I were a straight men myself, I would have similar empathy for women.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 7, 2007 1:37:41 PM

  14. I just assumed that firefighters who actually drive/ride in the trucks as part of gay pride parades were, in fact, gay (at least in big city parades).

    I agree this should be a volunteer situation and no firefighter should be forced to participate. That being said, I don't get the impression that their jobs were threatened in any way so a true workplace sexual harassment case seems pretty weak.

    Posted by: ATLSteve | Aug 7, 2007 1:40:20 PM

  15. PS: Re other firefighters who may have teased or harassed the gay pride parade participants: That should be grounds for a correction or termination of employment.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 7, 2007 1:42:18 PM

  16. GRIFFIN1573 -- Are those "vidals" The City & The Pillar or Palimpsest?

    Posted by: Becks07 | Aug 7, 2007 1:51:49 PM

  17. RE: What if a group of whites were making sexual remarks to an Asian, Black or Hispanic woman at the bus stop is that wrong.

    But if sexual remarks are to white women they are okay?

    These firemen got to experience what women face every day. I wonder if they have ever cat called women....?

    While I tend to lean on the side of civil rights (i.e. not forcing someone to attend something that is outside the typical job description), I also recognize that sometimes we need to represent our work at events like Pride, and wonder if this isn't a backdoor way to direct hatred towards their boss who is 1) a woman and 2) a lesbian.

    Posted by: Monika | Aug 7, 2007 1:54:29 PM

  18. Becks07

    "vidals" in my area of the world is slang for food.That's how I intended it.
    I'm not sure what "the city & pillar" refers too.
    Or what way I would use "palimpsest"
    ( defined as a reused piece of paper)
    in the context of my statement.

    Perhaps,regionally at least,I'm missing the point of your question...or you missed the point of my comment.

    Posted by: griffin1573 | Aug 7, 2007 2:27:35 PM

  19. Okay Timothy, I'm glad to see that you're not a trolling homophobic christian bigot, I deal with enough of that filth on some of the other sites I post on. You certainly have their lingo down, just next time remember that for something to be interpreted as being funny, you need to make sure that your readers are clued into the fact that you're joking otherwise you just become another Michael Richards. As to your points on homophobic firefighters in Hillcrest and the greater San Diego area, I completely agree with you. The LAFD and the LACFD here in LA are both having similar problems with racist, sexist, homophobic bigots throughout their ranks as well...

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Aug 7, 2007 2:32:07 PM

  20. Firefighters are public servants, their services is paid for by YOUR tax dollars. They don't get to decide whom they should rescue or refuse.

    Jesus Christ.

    I'm might have blown them a kiss myself if I hadn't just found out what a bunch of Moaning Myrtels this lot are. A grown man can survive having an appreciative kiss blown at him - generations of woman have done, frankly – and presumably by firemen, too.

    I live in New York and I’ve seen firemen hoot and leer at passing women on the street. This crowd need to see this stupid lawsuit backfire all over their over entitled asses.

    Posted by: FASTLAD | Aug 7, 2007 2:38:12 PM

  21. griffin1573, fyi, the reference to "the city and the pillar" refers to the biblical destruction of Sodom and Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt by god. "Palimpsest" is an oft misused reference by christians to biblical scripture as early hand written copies of the bible were often transcribed on re-used parchment. Your understanding of the word is correct but in religious circles it's the latter which they are referring to..

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Aug 7, 2007 2:42:48 PM

  22. Griffin1573:

    I like your definition of vidals as much as Becks07's. Becks07's Vidal(as in Mr Gore Vidal) never considered himself to be part of a "gay" subculture, but that's his perogative. I still love...well, like him. I read "The City and the Pillar" when I was about 18-- can't you tell from my cheerful, hopeful personality. Nothin' more uplifting than a story about an all-American golden boy turned street hustler. Well, in the 1940s what else could a nice non-feminine gay boy do?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 7, 2007 2:46:34 PM

  23. And obviously it must be my "prerogative" to spell like an idiot.

    As for the San Diego firefighters: bet they aint built like them New York City firemen.

    Posted by: Derrick from PHilly | Aug 7, 2007 2:53:43 PM

  24. I think many of you are missing the point of just how silly this is.

    I am a lawyer, and I don't understand the basis of their claim.

    Are they arguing that the fire department was suppose to control non fire department individuals when at a fire department event in public? Well- that's a fascinating argument to say the least.

    So, if say a fire department member who is gay is in public and someone yells fag from the crowd - do we get to sue the department based on harrasment too? I mean how far do we want to take this. They are essentially arguing that all gays are like this. How do I make that argument you ask? Because they are saying going to a gay pride is inheritly a harrasing event. If not, then their claim makes even less sense to me. Because if the event itself isn't inheritly harrasing, and what actually happened was by people not controlled by the fire department, then what exactly is there point?

    Posted by: akaison | Aug 7, 2007 2:55:23 PM

  25. AH...

    Thank you Robert and Derrick.
    I believe I understand what Becks is asking me.
    The last line in my comment was not to be a biblical referance or an off handed slight to Gore Vidal.
    It's hard to write slang with the right "twang" to get the joke across.

    Though both of those definition's would have funny.

    Posted by: griffin1573 | Aug 7, 2007 3:06:39 PM

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