They terrorized him. They jeopardized his life. They ridiculed him.
They were cops… and so was he.
Jay Brome recounts decades of abuse at the hands of his fellow officers.
“The harassment started when I was in the academy,” he tells The Sacramento Bee. “There was bullying and name calling.”
In addition to being subjected to shockingly casual slurs like fag, Brome was targeted in a systemic, violent hate campaign that lasted over 20 years. In an early incident, his instructor told the openly gay cadet to “take your skirt off and start acting like a man.”
The injustice had a ripple effect that resonated through the ranks and poisoned Brome’s entire career.
“Once the instructor came after me, then I was open game for the other officers.”
In one horrifying exchange, Brome recalls how he and his supervisor were engaging in a role reversal exercise. They were demonstrating how to survive a scenario with a gun-wielding suspect. The instructor pointed his firearm at Brome and ordered him to admit his sexual orientation in order to justify killing him.
So much for serving and protecting.
Somehow, Brome was able to overcome the horrific vitriol and outright bigotry spewing from his so-called squad mates. He was still willing to work with them, but the sentiment was not mutual.
On several occasions, Brome would respond to a 911 call, place himself in harm’s way, and ask for backup, but none would arrive. Homophobia was more precious to the California Highway Patrol than the life of their compatriot.
The trauma became so intense that Brome developed suicidal urges. He would routinely fantasize about pulling over his cruiser, un-holstering his gun and ending his misery.
Even when Jay Brome earned the distinction of Officer of the Year, the department refused to display his photo alongside his heterosexual counterparts.
But Brome eventually gained the visibility he deserved, and it would be at the CHP’s peril.
Jay Brome, a former California Highway Patrol officer, settled a discrimination suit against his former employer for $2.2 million. "I'm always told justice is the process, not the outcome," he said. "We made the process work." https://t.co/tpHXvP7C2z
— Bay Area Reporter (@eBARnews) October 1, 2021
The embattled cop finally won his legal struggle against the state of California, settling for $2.2 million.
It begs the question: how much is a hero’s life worth?
Brome conquered mountains of prejudice, but how many still languish in the shadows of fear and retribution? What should everyday victims of oppression do to survive such aggression?
Get out. Get help. Get the respect you deserve. Let Officer Brome lead the way.
Photo: Jay Brome
Last modified: October 6, 2021