Two gay firefighters have spoken out about finding acceptance in the workplace as part of Victoria’s Country Fire Authority.
Brodie Van Vugt, 23, and Tony Langdon, 51, represent different generations of Australian firefighters but have both found acceptance in an industry which can often be viewed through the lens of stereotype, according to the CFA Media story.
“CFA was a blokes’ playground back then, with a real macho culture,” he said.
“My particular brigade didn’t actually allow women – my sister had to go to a different brigade.
“Homosexuality was complicated. It was a little bit of an unknown issue.
“There weren’t many openly gay men around, certainly not in the brigade, so any questions I had, I didn’t really have anyone around to ask.”
Langdon joined the CFA at 11 years old in order to follow the same path his father had walked, and lived in Melbourne in the ’90s and ’00s before returning to the CFA.
“Both CFA and society has changed quite dramatically,” Langdon said.
“It’s a totally different culture now in society and, for the most part, it’s changed for the better.”
“It was always something I wanted to do, but I definitely had reservations before I joined,” Van Vugt said.
“I thought it might be a bit of a boys club. I hadn’t actually come out at that stage, I did that after about six months.
“They made an announcement at a monthly meeting in front of everyone.
“Everyone was very accepting; I couldn’t have been treated more normally.”
Van Vugt was awarded Scoresby’s Firefighter of the Year award last year, and noted the existence of CFA Pride as a sign of optimism for the future.
The CFA shared the men’s stories to celebrate today’s Wear it Purple Day, which is all about promoting inclusivity for LGBTI people in the workplace.
“CFA is full of different backgrounds, different people, different cultures now. We’re all here to fight fires,” Van Vugt said.
“Just be who you are and we’ll accept you.”
Read Langdon and Van Vugt’s full stories on the CFA website.