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Providence firefighters forced to march in gay parade.
March 1, 2002 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Providence firefighters forced to march in gay parade. Is firefighters' participation in a gay rights parade "...an important demonstration of community solidarity" as claimed by one side, or should participation by public servants be limited to volunteers?
posted by mr_crash_davis (25 comments total)

 
A few thoughts:

-If firefighters participate in other parades like the pride parade, such as for ethnic groups and other city celebrations, then they should participate in the pride parade (this would be treating all civic celebrations as "equal".)

-If participation in other civic celebrations is voluntary (e.g., the members of an Irish Firefighters society participate in the St. Patrick's Day parade, but other firefighters participate on a voluntary basis) then this should be the policy for this parade as well.

-If a firefighter were, say, a white separatist, and the entire company of Providence fightfighters participates in a Black History month celebration, how would readers react to the firefighter saying his beliefs were being abrogated by this policy?

-Yes, I am aware of the arguments regarding comparisons between racial and ethnic identity and sexual orientation. I happen to think that while not the same, they are similar, and prejudice on all counts in insidious and often comes in packages (e.g., racists groups are often violently homophobic.) I am certainly not arguing that the firefighters involved are racist.

Ideally, participation in any civic celebration should be voluntary. Obviously saving people shouldn't be, and for firefighters in my experience, is not.

NB: Fox News is not the most unbiased source for stories on LGBT issues.
posted by ltracey at 5:20 PM on March 1, 2002


What an agreeable thing to complain about. Civil libertarians are going to defend this until the end, but imagine if a firefighter didn't want to participate in a shriners parade because he didn't like their religious overtones or refused to help in a veterans parade because he's a pacifist or has a beef with the government. I'm sure there would be a lot less supporters for these convictions if not outright outrage, but in the end we're supposed to be justifying personal choice not playing the straight vs. gay card.

Firefighters with convictions strong enough to not participate in community events should find work in the private sector.
posted by skallas at 5:24 PM on March 1, 2002


If it is an official action by the Fire Department done while the participating firefighters are on the clock, being paid, then I have no problem with requiring them to do it.

If they are being forced to do it during their normal off-work hours then it should be completely voluntary.
posted by obfusciatrist at 5:28 PM on March 1, 2002


Judgements aside, Providence has always had a huge problem with arson. Whatever action results in less job performance distraction for the PFD should be the way to proceed.
posted by machaus at 5:41 PM on March 1, 2002


Firstly:

"They're professionals," he said, "and they're asking to be treated as professionals and not be forced to partake in something that has nothing to do with their jobs."

End of story. Unless mandated by their job agreement this is worthless belief-foisting, if so unwieldy a term may be coined. Whether or not their individual beliefs are popular or even non-objectionable is secondary, as long as they do interfere with their ability to do their job.

Secondly:

"Firefighters' inclusion in the parade is generally an important demonstration of community solidarity," Levi said.

But if it's a lie it is less than worthless. Another example of people being put through some hassle to propagate a useless, misleading, and utterly false sense of community security. Opposite of the whole fake airline security nonsense; here, it is the public employees being dragged through the farce by members of the public.
posted by umberto at 5:44 PM on March 1, 2002


Ok, time for me to unleash my Wisdom of Solomon here:

If you don't want to march in a certain parade, call in sick!

And...

Theres no need to take this to court. Who is going to put out fires if the fire fighters are all in court?

And while I'm at it, no fire departments or police departments or ambulances in parades!

What if like a plane crashes into a daycare center during a parade? Around where I live, parades have like 3 fire trucks, 5 ambulances... wasteful!
posted by Keen at 5:54 PM on March 1, 2002


NB: Fox News is not the most unbiased source for stories on LGBT issues.

NB: This is an Associated Press story. Anyone attempting to blame Fox News for its existence is not the most unbiased source when it comes to assigning labels to news organizations.
posted by aaron at 5:56 PM on March 1, 2002


Does your mom work for Fox News, or something, aaron? So defensive!
posted by jpoulos at 6:54 PM on March 1, 2002


It's just my opinion but....

HIV infection spread by male homosexual anal sex likely killed more people in Providence than fires have. Gay pride indeed.

Largely hetereosexual civil servants (firefighters) should not be ordered to parade themselves down main street in some Village People YMCA MTV-video style fantasy for homosexual gawkers.
posted by Real9 at 6:59 PM on March 1, 2002


"...in some Village People YMCA MTV-video style fantasy for homosexual gawkers."

Over the line, buddy. Waaaay over. Any fact-based input you have is ultimately invalidated by your vulgar, homophobic bias.
posted by tomorama at 7:25 PM on March 1, 2002


And HIV does not kill you. Human Immunodeficienty Virus weakens the body's immune system, and anyone with HIV who dies is likely the victim of other pathogens and opportunistic infections.
posted by tomorama at 7:30 PM on March 1, 2002


tomorama, That is called a distinction without a difference.
posted by Real9 at 7:40 PM on March 1, 2002


Huuhhuhuh let's keep in mind that our Mayor here Vincent Cianci Jr. is not unfamiliar with prison and is not really the sort of guy that would tolerate any overt gayness at all anywhere. This city was founded by conservative religious zealots who wanted to break away from less conservative religious zealots, though to be fair the guy doesn't seek to offend anyone - everybody loves him (unless they are poor and not italian, of course).

Firefighters are ordinary people. They owe nothing to the community and any community that thinks otherwise is kidding themselves into thinking firefighters are somehow community leaders just because their job might involve drama and risk when they aren't sitting on their asses.

And Real9 is not at all over the line. The opinions he has may very well be those that the firemen in question have, and although he exagerates and brings up some irrelevant topics, his comment is neither invalidated, vulgar or terribly homophobic, although the high AIDS rates in homosexual populations are due in part to incubation periods of ten years. So his comment was a bit misinformed.

Bottom line: firefighters are ordinary people, seeking only to protect people and property from fire. That is all.
posted by Settle at 7:42 PM on March 1, 2002


Oh, and also - a message to anyone who puts themself at risk for HIV, don't take poppers. They destroy your immune system and have been shown to make HIV infection more likely. HIV is not some sort of magic bullet as is often said. There are a lot of people that maintain that the virus has actually never even been isolated. There are a lot of people with HIV that don't have AIDS and there are a handful of people with AIDS and no HIV. One of the few things everyone agrees on is the drug use.
posted by Settle at 7:48 PM on March 1, 2002


Real9, stupidity likely killed more people in Providence than either fires or 'homosexual anal sex' (I suppose it's ok to pork a chickup the wazoo in your little universe). We don't care what your incorrect and off kilter views of human sexuality and pathogenic transmission are, dahling. We're talking about the issue of firefighters being required to march in a parade. So troll somewhere else.

As for the issue at hand, I don't think appearing in the gay pride parade should be mandatory unless other similar civic appearances are mandatory as well. If other such appearances are mandated in the firemen's contracts, and they are considered part of their paid duty, then they should march. Otherwise, it's up to them.

And not marching in a pride parade does not necessarily mean that someone is anti gay. I'm a big homo and I don't march in the New York Pride parade anymore due to it's commercial nature and rather off-putting spectacle. But that's my choice. If someone wants to, march on, I say.

And I remember that the police on duty during the last New York pride parade rather liked the spectacle and the attention. I've never seen officers receive so much adulation and attention, from both men and women, in any other similar event.
posted by evanizer at 8:13 PM on March 1, 2002


Largely hetereosexual civil servants (firefighters) should not be ordered to parade themselves...in some...fantasy for homosexual gawkers.


that is so Big Gay Al. who'd bother trying to seduce a straight guy? annoying, time-consuming, and messy (literally).
posted by patricking at 8:37 PM on March 1, 2002


If I were one of those firefighters, I'd tell 'em to shove their parade up their...well, I would, dammit.
I'm not "anti-gay." I just can't identify with them.
posted by StOne at 10:03 PM on March 1, 2002


As for the issue at hand, I don't think appearing in the *** pride parade should be mandatory unless other similar civic appearances are mandatory as well. If other such appearances are mandated in the firemen's contracts, and they are considered part of their paid duty, then they should march. Otherwise, it's up to them.

Substitute anything you like for "gay" and this is real wisdom from evanizer. I'm not gay and yet I constantly identify with almost whatever gay people say. Why is this? In Portugal and Italy, both extremely traditional societies, there is no prejudice against men, whether gay or straight, because of the prejudice against women. Female firefighters are somewhat ridiculed, for physical ability reasons. It's sad and unhealthy, but it has the hidden advantage of making it impossible to understand what's so special(much less reprehensible)about gay men.

I realize this is against topic, by the way
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:43 PM on March 1, 2002


I will agree with Evanizer, there. And if appearance duties are not detailed in their contracts, this might be a good time to start. Personally, I have no urge to be in ANY parade, straight, ethnic, on the Moon, or any other type.
posted by Samizdata at 11:32 PM on March 1, 2002


I think people are losing sight of the important thing, here, which is that this would be a great Photoshop contest theme over at FARK.
posted by planetkyoto at 1:27 AM on March 2, 2002


If the firefighters weren't homophobic they wouldn't find it an issue surely?
posted by kerplunk at 7:11 AM on March 2, 2002


> If the firefighters weren't homophobic they wouldn't find
> it an issue surely?

If they can be forced to march in a gay pride parade, they could also be forced to march in a white pride parade along with folks in pointy hats and sheets when the community ethos changes a bit. That seems a reasonable non-homophobic reason to resist forced marches of any kind.

Frankly I don't want the government out there pushing any belief system, whether it's socially acceptable at the present moment or not.
posted by jfuller at 7:39 AM on March 2, 2002


Largely hetereosexual civil servants (firefighters) should not be ordered to parade themselves down main street in some Village People YMCA MTV-video style fantasy for homosexual gawkers.

That's right. Save it for the calenders!

Washington Sate
UK
Australia
posted by srboisvert at 9:09 AM on March 2, 2002


Personally, as someone who has participated in gay pride parades, I really don't want people to participate unless they are supportive.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:06 PM on March 2, 2002


Better late than never:

There are a lot of people that maintain that the virus has actually never even been isolated. There are a lot of people with HIV that don't have AIDS and there are a handful of people with AIDS and no HIV. One of the few things everyone agrees on is the drug use.

Jesus. When will this garbage cease to raise its ugly, ill-informed head? It's no surprise that plenty of people with HIV-1 don't have AIDS because even without treatment there can be many years between infection and clinical AIDS. There is no one with any credibility at all still claiming that the the virus responsible for AIDS has not been isolated or is not HIV-1. I have never heard of an AIDS patient with no HIV-1 present in their body; I would be very interested in the source of this claim. Numerous cases exist of patients whose viral load dropped below detection levels while detection methods were less sensitive than they are now; perhaps the poster was referring to such a case?

For more information, see this year's AIDS day on Metafilter, IIRC this topic was gone over pretty thoroughly.
posted by sennoma at 10:56 AM on March 3, 2002


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