There may be a renamed street in Greenwich Village. As the New York Daily News reports on September 16, a group of current gay cops are hoping to honor Sgt. Charles Cochrane, a previous NYPD sergeant who came out more than 30 years ago, with a street named after him.
The proposal to remane a small block in Greenwich visit to Sgt. Charles H. Cochrane Way will be addressed by the Community Board 2 on Tuesday and if it passes, it will give recognition to a man who stood up proudly for what he believed in during a time when there weren’t many openly gay cops. In 1981, Cochrane shocked the establishment when he stood up and testified in support of New York City’s gay rights bill.
Cochrane not only confessed to being a gay policemen, he stood up with pride. During his testimony he said:
“I am very proud of being a New York City policeman. And I’m equally proud of being gay.”
He also made a point to clarify that gays were not “cruel, wicked or sick”. This was an important moment at the time because Cochrane’s decision to come out and share his voice put to rest an idea that there were no gay cops at that time. Later he helped to form The Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) which paved the way for similar groups in other cities and states.
Det. Carl Locke, the current GOAL president, described the moment as one “that changed the country” and a moment that should “be remembered and it should be memorialized.”
Sgt. Charles H. Cochrane, a14-year veteran of the NYPD, is an important figure in the history of gay rights because of the punishment he risked by standing up gay police officers during that time and standing up for the rights of gay cops of the future. Before his death in 2008, he said was delighter other cops were able to come out of the closet.
“The bigots had to retreat to the closet - and that was very satisfying.”
Cochrane’s efforts will be honored if enough signatures are gathered for a City Council vote. If the City Council votes in favor of the proposal, there will be a Sgt. Charles H. Cochrane Way in a neighborhood that started the gay rights movement.