Homophobia in the District of Columbia Fire Department

Text

GLOV Report Targets DC Fire Chief Otis Latin (photo courtesy The Washington
Blade)
GLOV Report Targets Chief Latin
At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 28, 1996, Gay Men and Lesbians Opposing
Violence (GLOV) held a press conference to release its report, Homophobia in the
District of Columbia Fire Department, covering the period from August 1, 1995 to
August 1, 1996. Several groups have worked in coalition with GLOV to address gay
and lesbian community concerns about the D.C. Fire Department. These groups
include GLAA; the D.C. Coalition of Black Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals; the
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); Transgender Nation; the
American Civil Liberties Union; and others.
The following individuals spoke at the press conference. Where the text of a
speaker's remarks is available, you can go to their remarks by clicking on their
name below.
Tracey Conaty, Co-Chair, Gay Men and Lesbians Opposing Violence
Darryl Cooper, GLOV Legal Counsel and Steering Committee Member
Jessica Xavier, Transgender Nation
Rick Rosendall, President, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
Text of report: Homophobia in the District of Columbia Fire Department


Statement by Rick Rosendall, President, GLAA
At GLOV Press Conference, August 28, 1996
Good morning.
Today marks the thirty-third anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and
Freedom. Two of Dr. King's closest advisors, and key organizers of the march,
were A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and a black
gay man named Bayard Rustin. I am lifted up by their example, and I honor their
memory this morning.
A community as diverse as Washington poses a special challenge to those who
would protect it: to treat everyone equally. But it isn't just a challenge, it's
part of the job. In this case, just as Emergency Medical Technicians need to be
properly trained and equipped before they leave the station, they need to deal
with any problems they may have over different gender identities before they are
cutting open a bloody garment at the scene of an accident.
We have a right as taxpayers and citizens, not to mention human beings, to
expect better than we have gotten from Chief Latin's Fire Department. In turn,
we have accepted our responsibility as representatives of part of Washington's
diversity to do our share. This impressive report from GLOV is only the latest
contribution that unpaid, dedicated community volunteers have offered to help
make this a better city. Time and again we have brought our expertise and our
commitment to our public officials in a spirit of cooperation and service of the
common good. When we are met in a similar spirit, AIDS services are improved,
hate crimes are better enforced, youth at risk are reached before they fall
through the cracks.
Unfortunately, some in government respond to the efforts of community groups
like ours by throwing up walls of resistance, avoidance, and contempt. Our city
cannot afford to waste its human resources in this way. We cannot afford the
arrogance of public servants who don't think they should have to listen or
respond to the citizens they are sworn to serve. We come forward as proud
citizens eager to help our city address and resolve its problems. We would
prefer to encounter a constructive spirit, rather than reflexive adversarialism.
But we will be heard. Enough is enough. Lives are at stake. Professionalism and
leadership are required. If Chief Latin won't do his job, it's time for the
Mayor to replace him with someone who will.

Citation

Gay Men and Lesbians Opposed to Violence, “Homophobia in the District of Columbia Fire Department,” Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed July 12, 2024, https://archives.rainbowhistory.org/items/show/384.

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