Gay firefighter sues NYC Fire Dept. over conversion therapy recommendation

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Corey Boykins — Photo courtesy of Spectrum News NY1
Corey Boykins — Photo courtesy of Spectrum News NY1

A Gay New York City firefighter is suing his department, the City of New York, and the fire department lieutenant who served as the department's diversity officer, charging them with harassment based on his sexual orientation.

Firefighter Corey Boykins said he faced anti-Gay discrimination and was the target of slurs from the very first day of his employment at the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Boykins said that he tolerated some questionable firehouse dynamics, but felt it crossed a line when anti-Gay slurs were hurled at him directly.

Boykin told NY1 TV News that he followed department procedures and took his complaint to Lt. Darius Dorsett, then the department's diversity officer.

"I was at my lowest," Corey Boykins told NY1. "I was kind of just trying to still have respect for the job, because I do love the job. I do love the job. I was trying to navigate how I could stop this without losing my job."

His discussion with Dorsett only made things worse, Boykins said. He was told that he should sleep with both men and women and that others had been "cured" of their homosexuality.

"Immediately, the first thing was: I don't belong in the firehouse and... basically being Gay was a choice, having sex is about procreation," Boykins said. Dorsett even offered him "hand diagrams" demonstrating heterosexual intercourse.

Boykins said the harassment took a physical toll that led to a mental breakdown. In his suit, Boykins seeks an apology and damages, but he still says he does not want to leave the FDNY.

"I would risk my life for any civilian or one of my brothers, one of the firefighters," he told NY1.

Boykins said the FDNY should require training on how to interact with colleagues of different races and sexual orientations, and on when they're crossing the line in harassment.

"This is making me feel some kind of way, like I'm taking this home," he said. "And the only thing I should take home is something bad at a fire or I saw someone passed away. Those are things I'd be OK taking home."

When contacted by NY1 News, the FDNY spokesperson referred the issue to New York City's Law Department. A spokesperson there told NY1, "There is no room for discrimination or retaliation at any agency. The complaint is being carefully reviewed."

Lt. Dorsett has been removed as diversity officer and reassigned to another position in the department. He did not respond to requests for comment.

The FDNY has been sued several over gender and racial discrimination. A landmark settlement in 2014 with the Vulcan Society of Black firefighters compelled FDNY to diversify its ranks and create the diversity officer position.