Greenwich Village Street to Be Renamed for Brave Gay Cop Who Came Out of the Closet in 1981


A New York Community Board is expected to vote to rename a block in Greenwich Village – Washington Place, between Grove St. and 6th Ave – after Sergeant Charles H. Cochrane, who came out of the closet in a City Council meeting in 1981 when he testified in support of a gay rights bill, the NY Daily News reports.

Cochrane"I am very proud of being a New York City policeman,” Cochrane said. “And I’m equally proud of being gay."

A 14-year veteran assigned to the Manhattan South Task Force, Cochrane testified that gays were “not cruel, wicked, cursed, sick or possessed by demons.”

Cochrane had testified moments after a police official claimed he knew no gay cops.

Cochrane's coming out inspired the formation of Gay Officers Action League, or GOAL. The street to be honored was chosen because it's the home of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, where GOAL meetings were held, the paper adds, and was also the target of bomb threats after Cochrane came out.

Cochrane died of cancer in 2008, at age 68. His sister has promised to come to NYC from her home in Illinois for the street-naming ceremony.


  1. David From Canada says

    Proud policeman Charles H. Cochrane is a true gay pioneer, and so very brave for coming out back in 1981, a much less enlightened time. He made the way much easier for his fellow gay policemen.
    On another note here, a friend and I vacationed in New York City 3 years ago and took several bus tours of the city. The bus tour guides mentioned other minorities and their achievements, but never once did any of them say the word ‘gay’, including when we went through Greenwich Village. It was as though gays, the Stonewall Riots, etc. didn’t exist. Very sad.

  2. GregV says

    Monica and Chandler’s apt. on Friends was at Grove at Bedford at almost this exact spot, where gay men are ubiquitous. And yet in that decade, none of the six “friends” ever once crossed paths with a gay male.

  3. WOW says

    Really GREGV, really? I guess having the lesbian storyline that ran through the series for most of its run didn’t matter? It only counts if us guys are recognized? What a moron.

    P.S. We had Will & Grace so get over it.

  4. Dearcomrade says

    This is a wonderful honor to bestow upon policeman Charles Cochrane and I commend the community board for passing this.

    Having said that, you can expect the new “unofficial” name to be C*ckring Street 😉

  5. GregV says

    @Wow: The Susan and Carol storyline on Friends did, indeed matter a lot, but it’s beside the point I was making. Anyone who lives at that corner would be seeing gay people of both sexes — even more males — EVERY DAY because that zip code has more gay males per capita than almost any in the world. And they never ran across a gay MALE in 10 years — not even two men holding hands walking by Central Perk in the background.
    It would be like having someone live in Honolulu for 10 years and never meet an Asian-American female or even have a woman who looks Asian pass by on the sidewalk. It would never happen in real life.

    @RJ: No, Phoebe’s Canadian ex-husband (whom she had married to get him a green card) had fooled her years before into thinking he was gay, but tells her as soon as we meet him that he is really straight.

  6. GregV says

    … A part of what got me thinking of the fictional no-gay-males West Village on TV was the fact that an oblivious REAL LIFE police official who was no doubt working among numerous gay cops had created a fictional New York in his perception where no gay cops seem to exist.

  7. Robert says

    The fact that Friends had no gay characters is absolutely a blight on the show. The “lesbian” storyline? Oh, please.

    Anyway, this cop was braver than 99% of the people on this blog. What a pioneer.

  8. WOW says

    GREGV/ROBERT: what a bunch of whiny queens you are! Get over it. I guess to you lesbians aren’t as important as us gay guys? You really need a life. Quit wanking to your Will & Grace reruns, turn off your TV and get out there and make a real difference in the community.