Toxic Masculinity

Trial begins in discrimination case for St. Louis cop told to “tone down his gayness”

Keith Wildhaber

A trial centered around St. Louis cop Keith Wildhaber, a 22-year veteran of the force who claims he was discriminated against for being gay, kicked off on Tuesday. Wildhaber’s superiors allegedly told him to “tone down his gayness” if he ever wanted a promotion.

Wildhaber filed the discrimination suit in 2017, he says, after St. Louis County Police Board of Commissioners member John Saracino told him he would never receive a promotion to lieutenant unless he hid his sexual orientation. He also claims that Saracino transferred him to a precient that tripled his commute, and that he was placed on midnight shifts.

Related: SoCal’s Gay Discrimination Rages On: Police Sargent Targeted With Homophobic ‘Jokes’

According to lawyers for Wildhaber, the transfer, shifting of hours and remarks came as a coordinated effort between Saracino and Police Chief Jon Belmar as an act of homophobia against their client. “The command staff has a problem with your sexuality. If you ever want to see a white shirt [get promoted], you should tone down your gayness,” Saracino allegedly said to Wildhaber.

“The police department under Chief Belmar is big on high-testosterone, type A masculine personalities, and my method of policing doesn’t conform with that,” Wildhaber said. “This chief is very heavy on promoting the SWAT, masculine type of guys, and I wasn’t doing that.”

The trial remains ongoing.

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