April 19, 1982 – The Gay Officers Action League, Inc. (GOAL) is founded by NYPD Sergeant Charles Cochrane and retired Detective Sam Ciccone establishing the first official police fraternal society in the world to represent LGBT people within the criminal justice system and create a support network for LGBT officers and to advocate for their rights within the police department.
Cochrane, a 14 year veteran of the NYPD, created shock waves by testifying before a NYC Council hearing in favor of a gay rights bill. Following the testimony of a Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Vice President, who denounced the bill and declared, “I didn’t know of any homosexual police officers.”, Cochrane stunned all present as well as NYC as a whole by his testimony: “I am very proud of being a New York City Police Officer, and I am equally proud of being gay.”
One of GOAL’s primary objectives is to advocate for policies and practices that protect the rights of LGBT officers and to ensure that they are not subjected to discrimination or harassment on the job. The organization has been instrumental in changing policies within the New York City Police Department that have previously discriminated against LGBT officers. For example, in 1994, GOAL successfully advocated for a policy change that allowed LGBT officers to march in uniform in the annual New York City Pride Parade. A point of contention today with the younger more radical queer activists.
The work of the Gay Officers Action League, Inc. has had a significant impact on the lives of LGBT police officers in New York City and beyond. and is an important organization that plays a critical role in advocating for the rights and interests of LGBT police officers. The organization’s work has had a significant impact on the New York City Police Department and has helped to create a more welcoming and inclusive workplace for LGBT officers.
*Archival items from the Gay Officers Action League records. Manuscripts and Archives Division. The New York Public Library. Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.
*Header Photo: By Andy Warhol