Gay UK Firefighter Recalls Straight Pretense, then Instant Acceptance

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday February 14, 2022

A gay firefighter in England recalled, in an online video for LGBTQ+ History Month, that he used to pretend to have a girlfriend when he was new to the profession.

Nick Couch, who has been a firefighter for 24 years, joined up at age 18, but didn't come out to his fellow firefighters until the age of 25 in 1997, the Star Oberver reported.

Indeed, he remembered feeling like "to find the courage" to come out at work "was going to be a tough nut to crack." But, Couch went on to say, when he did come out, he was instantly accepted by the others on the team.

Couch featured in a video put online by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Services for LGBT+ History Month, local news source Devon Live detailed.

Couch recounted how, as the new man on the team, he told himself, "'Oh, I'd better have a girlfriend,' because everybody else had wives."

He was unsure what the alternative would mean. "Should I turn up and say, 'Oh yeah, here is my guy?'" Couch said. "Imagine that."

But the day came when he didn't have to imagine it. "I came out to the guys and they were so accepting, they were amazing," Couch said in the video. "It never changed the way they thought about me or the way that we worked as a team."

Couch called embracing authenticity "a weight off the shoulders." And his colleagues knowing he has a boyfriend hasn't been problematic. His relationship is also about to move to the next level: Couch and his long-time partner are preparing to wed, the article noted.

Couch went on to say that coming out is something that should be done in a person's own time. "Would I have done it sooner?" he mused. "I don't know. I don't know if I was ready. I thought, 'I have to be ready myself.'"

So do those who are living in the closet today, he said.

"We live in a different culture now where it is so widely accepted in life," the firefighter went on to say. "You shouldn't be afraid of who you want to be. Just embrace the moment and enjoy life."

Watch the video below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.