Heros Come in All Forms

Back in 1981 at a City Council hearing in New York City, a fiery debate was occurring on the gay rights bill. Pat Burns, Vice President for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, stated that he knew of no gay cops and argued against the bill.

A few minutes later, Sgt. Charles Cochrane spoke and came out to his fellow police officers. “I am very proud of being a New York City policeman,” he said. “And I’m equally proud of being gay.”

In June, New York City named Greenwich Village corner Sgt. Charles H. Cochrane Way. The location is just a few feet away from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. This church is where Sgt. Cochrane and other LGBTQ police officers met and formed the Gay Officers Action League or GOAL.

Detective Brian Downey, the current President of GOAL, said Cochrane’s testimony all those years ago was a game-changer. “Heroes come in all forms. I’m where I am because of what this man did. From what I know of him, there’s one word that sums him up what he did — courage.”

Sgt. Cochrane died of cancer in 2008 at age 64.


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