Assistant Chief: San Diego Firefighters Required ‘Critical-Incident Stress Debriefing’ After Gay Pride Parade

Oh, please.

Jarman_carleFire Chief Tracy Jarman and Assistant Chief Jeff Carle, who marched in the San Diego Gay Pride parade with the four firefighters who are suing the city because they say they were “harassed” while marching, testified yesterday in the case.

Said Carle: “They were pretty upset. And it got to the point where they asked for some help.”

The San Diego Union Tribune reports: “That night, the four requested critical-incident stress debriefing, or the same type of emergency counseling offered to firefighters dealing with on-the-job casualties and other grief, Jarman testified. Carle met with the four during their next shift. They told him they wanted a policy drafted to protect firefighters from having to attend gay pride parades against their will. Less than two weeks later, on Aug. 1, the four met with Carle, Jarman and Javier Mainar, the department’s other assistant chief. Carle testified that Mainar told the four they were acting like hypocrites, and said he doubted they would have similar issues if women – not men – were making the catcalls. Jarman told jurors: ‘I assured them what happened to them wouldn’t happen again.'”

Here’s what they’re complaining about: “The four men say they suffered emotional distress because of what they saw and heard: cat calls, simulated sex acts among men wearing nothing but briefs, and lewd comments and gestures.”

Imho, their homophobia may make them unfit to serve. If they needed counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder from seeing the same kind of hetero-nonsense gay people have to observe on an average trip to Las Vegas, there’s something intrinsically wrong here.

The city’s firefighters have participated in the parade for the last 15 years without incident.

Fire chief recounts gay pride parade [san diego union tribune]

San Diego Firefighter Gay ‘Harassment’ Trial Begins [tr]
San Diego Firefighters Claim Threats After Gay Pride Complaint [tr]
San Diego Firefighters Sue Dept for Gay Pride Sexual Harassment [tr]


  1. Jeremy says

    Hey Andy,

    I dunno about this one. I mean, sure, to require post-traumatic stress counseling is pretty ridiculous, but I’m gay and *I* feel pretty uncomfortable at gay pride parades for precisely the same reason. Maybe I’m just shy, or maybe it’s my modest Jewish upbringing rearing its ugly head, but I don’t think that if you’re uncomfortable being catcalled that something’s intrinsically wrong with you.

    Sometimes we forget that being sex-positive means being okay with people who, like me, aren’t as comfortable in their own skin.

  2. says

    These people are firemen, Jeremy. Firement are trained not to think twice about running into burning buildings to rescue people risking their own lives in the process. Yet we’re supposed to believe their such delicate souls they can’t take a few catcalls in a gay pride parade?

    These people shouldn’t be allowed to be firemen. They just don’t have the guts for it.

  3. John says

    Wait a minute – they were forced to march in a parade against their will? That’s ridiculous. Homophobia may be wrong, but that doesn’t mean that for some people it’s not strong and very real. If I were forced to march in an anti-gay, pro-life, KKK parade, I can tell you, in all seriousness, I might need some counseling afterwards. I agree that their homophobia may make them unfit to serve, but forcing them to participate in a gay parade hurts everyone involved, including the gay community.

  4. sparks says

    I’m not one who would argue that because some ethnic group or gender has had to tolerate inappropriate behavior, these guys shouldn’t be allowed to complain. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    What I would argue is that a vast majority of the behavior in question is harmless. We’re talking about guys in skimpy clothing or even briefs/speedos, humping and dancing and frolicking? Come on. No firefighter could honestly say they have never witnessed or been involved in the same sort of activity amongst other guys in locker rooms at the gym, in school, in their very own fire stations. And probably in less than briefs on more than one occasion.

    Suddenly, PG-13 flesh baring makes them uncomfortable?

    Only exception that might be rightly considered harassing from this story would be the catcalls — flattery which is perhaps unwanted because it’s from the same gender, but still, a relatively mild annoyance one might expect in a big crowd of revelers.

    Much ado about nothing.

  5. ETC. says

    Actually, I feel bad for these dudes. If they don’t want to have to participate in a Gay Pride event, they should allow themselves to be respectfully excluded. Straight men aren’t interested in the gay man fantasy of getting with a “str8t guy.” They shouldn’t have to participate if they don’t want to, and that’s that.

  6. JP says

    This is absolutely ridiculous!

    “If they needed counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder from seeing the same kind of hetero-nonsense gay people have to observe on an average trip to Las Vegas…”

    Forget Vegas, try any straight club on a Friday night.

    “…Mainar told the four they were acting like hypocrites, and said he doubted they would have similar issues if women – not men – were making the catcalls”

    Mainar is right. These guys are pathetic.

    Police and Firemen have been present at every pride I’ve ever attended, and I’ve never heard of some frivolous lawsuit being brought because of it.

  7. SONNIE says

    OH those poor babies! They just couldn’t handle the sight of all those cute, tight gay butts. The poor things just had to have some “help”. I wonder what the hell they maybe trying to hide. Maybe they had a couple of gay experiences in the past and that just brought it all back. Why else would they claim to be so traumatised. Maybe it’s homophobia and old memories mixed.I know a couple of guys like that.

  8. John in Manhattan says

    On the subway this morning, I witnessed a sex discordant couple engaged in aggressive groping and open mouth kissing. I didn’t pay for my Metrocard to be subjected to such filth and now I’m suffering from tremors. Can I sue the MTA?

  9. Fab says

    I had lunch with some of my straight friends at “Hooters”- I had emotional distress for almost a year and can’t stop seeing the girls dancing to the beat of the music, the gestures the waiters were making really made me feel unconfortable….this was a work lunch- (crying right now…it was rought…really hard to swallow) Should I get a lawyer????

  10. bosie says

    How embarrasing to do this to the city, waste money away and then treat the lgbt like we are a bunch of hungry monkeys or wolves…..Shame, shame ! They should get to work instead of wastign city’s money….

  11. Cool Bear says

    This makes me very sad, because I almost always agree with you and think your instincts are great. But for me this is so pen-and-shut. These guys didn’t in any way refuse to assist citizens based on their sexual orientation and race (as some public servants have done, and as the Bush administration now wants ALL HEALTH CARE WORKERS IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY to be able to do). They didn’t take a stand for or against the parade or equal rights; they didn’t object to being surrounded by gay PDAs, as some of your readers seem to claim . All they did was admit they were uncomfortable and maintain that it should not be part of their duties to take part in a parade. Their personal feelings, which we can’t ascertain, aren’t relevant in any way; their basic rights are. The failure of empathy on this–the ridiculing of people who, just like us, think it’s appropriate to seek legal redress when our rights are breached–suggests what the firemen might have found so ugly in the situation. The comments here–that somehow their taking issue with being subjected to public sexual harassment means they’re not tough enough to rescue people from burning buildings–have to outrage every gay and lesbian cop or firefighter who’s been harassed on the job and then told they’re being a pussy when they object.

  12. Mark in NYC says

    I have a friend that was on the police force in NY and he was made to work at every pride parade just past 6th Avenue in the West Village. He was a hot guy and subjected to all sorts of sights, advances and innuendo. He is also secure enough in his masculinity to be amused and flattered by it all.
    Just what is it with San Diego? Did any of the claimants object to attending the event before hand? I’m sure the sights aren’t any more provocative than what one would see on MTV.

  13. Jai says

    ‘I mean I’m gay and I hate pride.’

    Well D’UH, Matt! You are a Repug, right?

    ‘Straight men aren’t interested in the gay man fantasy of getting with a “str8t guy.”‘

    What the hell makes you think that ALL fire fighters are straight, ETC.? What, a gay man cannot possibly be manly or brave enough to risk his life to save others? And so what if a gay guy thinks a straight guy happens to be cute?! I mean, I agree that there are a lot of gay men who do have that “seduce the str8 guy” fantasy, and I’m honestly not one of them. I have no desire to bed a man who has no interest in me sexually and I think that the gay men who obsess over straights are self-loathing. But I see a hot guy, he’s just a hot guy PERIOD. Gay, straight, or bi, it shouldn’t matter. If I simply tell a guy he’s hot, I should feel guilty or ashamed and worry about the poor baby’s feelings? Gimme a break.

  14. Matt says


    No. I’m not a repug lol. I’m independent thanks. What’s wrong with hating pride? I don’t enjoy it. I think it’s dumb to stand in line for a bar for an hour when any other time I can just walk right in. I also don’t enjoy the booths or parade. If I was a Repug, I would want to take it away from you. I just don’t go and don’t think anyone should be forced into going.

  15. says

    Hey, what’s wrong woth hating yourself, Matt? You’re a Big Ol’ FAAAAAAGGGGG!!!!! and everyone knows it. Such a tragedy, ain’t it? You’ve worked so hard on being straight-acting/straght-appearing and here comes the Gay Pride parade to ruin your day. So why not do yourself a favor and TAKE THE FUCKING GAS PIPE!!! It’ll make the world a lot happier for those of us who are out and proud of who we are.

  16. Jeremy says

    I think most of you–those who are ridiculing the firemen–should be ashamed of yourselves.

    These firemen were made to participate against their will, which is clearly a breach of their constitutional rights. Marching in a gay pride parade–which, let’s be honest here, is not the same thing as marching in the Thanksgiving Day Parade and you all know it–has nothing to do with their job description. As funny as you think it sounds, their rights were violated. End of story.

    Oh, and I’m a Democrat (yup, registered and all. Big lefty). Flame away.

  17. Fidel says

    Everyone defending the firemen, I see your point, but here’s my problem:

    The firefighters aren’t suing to change the rules–which have already been changed so something like this doesn’t happen again–they’re suing for DAMAGES. This means that these men are saying the pain of marching in pride was so severe that they’re not only seeking to get the rules changed, but that it made them unable or impaired their lives to the point where they need monetary compensation. I find that a bit extreme…

  18. Tyler says

    Jeremy you need to re register. The democrats stand for caring and compassion for the lesser among us. Bringing frivolous lawsuits shows no compassion, and these firefighters should be required to get to know the public they are serving. We pay their salary. As gross as chaps and nipple clamps are, there was nothing illegal about the flirty behavior.
    This is Alliance Defense bullshit, christofascists shoving straight sex in our faces and saying “eat pussy” Well forget it, and get over it!!

  19. Pekemo says

    Okay, I sympathized with the firemen up until the briefing, then it just became ridiculous. Seriously, comparing losing a friend or a limb to a fire compared to being cat-called by a few drunk queens is honestly insulting. I still don’t think they should’ve been forced to attend, who wants to see people at pride who don’t want to be there? But now I also think these dudes just need to grow a pair and lighten up

  20. Jeremy says

    Yeah, the bit about punitive damages is going too far. I agree there.

    I just wanted to call out all the people–the ones who get so up in arms when *our* civil rights are violated–who seem to think that sexually harrassing straight men is funny. And yes, since they were there as part of their work obligations, it amounts to work-related sexual harrassment. Civil liberties work both ways.

  21. Matt says

    I don’t hate myself David. Yeah I’m a big ol fag and everyone knows it because i’m out. I don’t hide being gay. When did not liking something “gay” equate to being self loathing. The gay pride parade doesn’t ruin my day. I just don’t go to it. I have no problem with Pride existing. Go to it, have fun, do whatever it is you do there. I’m just not into. Just like i’m not into old ass trolls who do a lot of E! True Hollywood story specials. :)

  22. David T says

    You know, if a white firefighter didn’t want to participate in an African American parade of some sort, he’d be fired. They are required to serve everyone. And the stress counseling is obviously bogus. This is a political statement.

  23. Paul R says

    Bear in mind that the firefighters were driving a firetruck with its windows ROLLED UP. If they heard any catcalls, it’s because they had their ears pressed against the windows. They’re trying to get money, plain and simple. If they saw sights they didn’t care for, they could have looked away. I can’t believe anyone is defending people who are supposed to be able to respond to any type of emergency, but can’t deal with a frigging parade.

    Seeing the public and showing the firetrucks IS part of their job. These guys are a bunch of pathetic wimps.

  24. says

    Ok lets have a look down the orifice of this topic…perhaps we can shed some light on the nether regions being discussed here. Fire Fighters come in straight and gay…mixed gender…up down sideways and all colours of the rainbow…so .. that makes them human…oh oh…toucy feely kinda guys…no no… yep..that makes them human…As humans they in their gender choose to serve. They are then given no option when an alarm bell goes off…(no pun intended although when you think about it…) They give no moral judgment to the work they must do….now..about P.R. Public Relations…oh that is what we often refer to in the service as “A Gig”…something to project the image out into the community…like say Fire Prevention Week or….Sparky the Fire Dog. Then we are trying to educate the public about our work and prevention and education is the key component of what it is we are doing….now…the brainless person who ordered the appearance of firefighters in the parade on a p.r. gig without first asking if they objected to the venue is…. the person who needs to be looked at. I am sure that department has a gay community and it is active. Newsflash folks yes we have an active firefighterveteran gay community lets not blush now……so why were those people not asked to go in it out of the closet. As far as post traumatic stress over the event…gee…well..get educated. One does get ptsd after a wounding or trigger event. If these men were wounded or triggered over the event then they need to get professional help. CISM and CISD is not considered professional help at all…it is considered to be psydo science at best ie debriefing ooops another trigger event word…would do nothing except tell them what to look for in the signs and symptoms. Unless they had professional help from a properly liscensed psych type then they do not meet the test or bench mark or the resonable man test (again no pun intended)….They need to man up here. If they truly were traumatized lets have the psych report in detail presented. There is no psych report. Just a here we go again fellows … a debiref….and that is not in any way shape or form a proper clinical diagnosis of post traumatic stress…..get the education about ptsd in the fire services from the web site located at

    The American Psychological Association defines ptsd as….in DSMIV tr (diagnostic and statistical manual number 4 text revision….as…an emotional reaction to a traumatic event….the topic is subjective to the injured people in their head space…do you folks get that…oh..forgot..some of you men are gay not straight and as such some days you can really get bit**y with straights who do not want to climb on board for the ride…well…you have my thoughts and that is enough for now…man up if you want and get the information about stress in the fire service….epsecially what ptsd is and what CISM and CISM D is not.

    Give me an email if you want more information but….a debirefing in Critical Incident Stress Management or otherwise is NOT PTSD Diagnosed…never will be never has been…sign me…

    EX IAFF 26 year career with IAFF

    Shannon H. Pennington ptsd firefighterveteran
    Senior Chief (Administrative)
    North American Fire Fighter Veterans Network
    F.I.R.S.T. S.T.E.P. H.O.P.E.
    care for the caregivers

    Member of The National Center for
    Crisis Management
    Comack New York

    Listed in the International Directory
    of The American Academy of Experts in
    Traumatic Stress

    Board Certified in Stress Management


  25. Philip Wester says

    OK, once more, if it had been attractive women doing the catcalls, the men who’ve been basking in the glory, loving it.

    But since it was gay men, they feel violated and what not. This is nothing else but homophobia. Not liking it is not homophobia. To be “traumatized” by it is.

  26. CANChuckle says

    “Rescue Me” has repeatedly shown in a fictional format what nearly everyone understands about most fire departments – with few exceptions, they are misogynistic, homophobic, racist men who don’t tolerate any religious beliefs (including belief in no religion) other than their own particular sect. It’s not just a US phenomenon – a real news story from a suburb of Vancouver, B.C.

    And what would the men of Rescue Me call someone who claims to need post-traumatic stress counselling? Pansy!

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