As someone new to this site, I am very curious to see how others feel about the issue of gays in the fire service. Without stating my own personal experiences, if an openly gay person were to be hired be your fire department, do you think that person (in the context of your station) would be accepted, or do you think a certain amount of predjudice and tension would exist, no matter the specifics?
I believe that if an openly gay person where hired be either of my departments, he/she would experience some obvious tension and some passive prejudice. This would definately change the dynamic of either department, perhaps for the better. I personally have no problem working with a gay man/woman as long as they come there to do the job. As long as he/she honestly tries to earn the trust and respect of the members, I have no problem working with him/her on my crew.
Well I'm out at my fire dept, though I don't talk of it much while at the station. I've been surprised that since coming out I haven't had any trouble with people accepting me. I have only heard of 1 person who had a minor concern but a fellow coworker got him educated. I feel that there is a generally accepting atmosphere throughout the regional fire service here. Of course state anti-discrimination laws might have a lot to do about that, but I don't think so.
My opinion is if you can perform the job safely, and can function as part of a team, then one's personal orientation is irrelevant and frankly none of my business. Much as how I conduct my personal affairs is no one else's business.
However, If I were to work with someone who's orientation was different than my own, I would not have a problem with it. The only potential problem I would have would be if they did not respect my personal views on homosexuality (I do not agree with homosexuality, I believe it's wrong. But I don't go starting arguments about it, it's just my own opinion). If I can respect a person's right to live their life the way they choose in a free country, then you owe me the decency of respecting my right to have an opinion that differs from yours and not belittle or demonize it :)
We also have several openly gay members. I've seen nothing that shows me there's any issues with their sexuality. They're actually some of the most respected and highly regarded people we have in the entire department. They also bring their significant others to the group and family functions, and seem to have a wonderful time, with no problem being part of the family. Whether or not they have any issues, I'm not sure. Like I said, from my standpoint, and knowing my people like I do, there seems to be no issues at all.
Sorry Ralph.... I have to get my politic digs in where I can.....
In the area where I rest my sweet little head at night there are quite a few that would throw a ruckus if someone came out (women should be seen and not heard mentality). You see more alternative lifestyles closer to the college campus. I guess it all depends on how you would react by how you were raised. Me I could really care less about race, sexual identity, or ?????? You are who you are. I was a fortunate mother that my daughter came out to me in her teens. (I knew, but I was just waiting for her to say something).
A few years back, we had an openly gay male from a private ambulance company do a ride along with us to get some clinical time. No one had a problem although for a while some guys walked on eggshells because they were too afraid that they might say something offensive. I personally don't care what anyone's sexual preference is. It has nothing to do with their ability to do the job. In my 8 years in the Army, I'm sure that somewhere along the line I served with a gay soldier. I know for a fact that I served with a lesbian soldier, and until she came out to us, no one had any idea. (and NO, we didn't turn her in under the don't ask, don't tell B.S.)
to me it doesn't matter as long as they can perform and have at least a little common sense. I'm sure that there will be some tension in our dept, just as there is some tension because of every other person we have on the department. Some tension is because of male vs female, other is old vs young, still others are politically based, a few are attitude, a couple are just plain dislike for each other . . . but the point is that tension in and of itself isn't bad as long as it is kept in check. Not everyone needs to be best buds, but they do need to be able to work together and trust each other.
Gay or straight doesn't matter. I'm happily married and as such don't want anyone hitting on me at the work place whether they are gay or straight. As long as my coworkers respect me and are professional in their actions (aside from a little light hearted ribbing with each other) then they can be anything they want.