LGBTQ INFORMATION NETWORK │ RAINBOW OF RESOURCES

PROTECTORS
 

Passionate Plea For and Against Police at Pride Events
LGBTQ Firefighter Is Putting Out Fires And Stereotypes
Kristin Crowley: Los Angeles's First Out, First Woman Fire Chief
History of LGBTQ in Policing

LGBTQ Group Is Changing NYPD From Within
Gay UK Firefighter: Nick Couch

Police Used to Raid Gay Bars, Now They March in Pride Parades

Baltimore City Fire Department’s First LGBTQ Liaison

GOAL: Gay Officers Action League
NYC Pride Parade Bans Police: Gay Officers Disheartened

LGBTQ Stories: New York City Fire Department
Coming Out From Behind the Badge

 

LGBTQ Police Officers
 

The presence of LGBTQ officers in law enforcement has a history of controversy. As times have changed, police forces have adapted by adding LGBTQ divisions, officers and committees within their ranks to account for legislation established by governments to protect individuals who previously had little or no voice when it came to laws impacting their own communities.

Diversity in service and the elimination of discrimination across the planet is led by many individuals, staff, associations and others within the global police community. Inclusivity, evolution, acceptance, intersectionality, organizational values and career advancement lead to proud cops and growing acceptance.  Nevertheless, many LGBTQ individuals still face significant discrimination in the police force.

 

 

Openly Gay Officers in Norfolk Police Dept

International EMS and Firefighters Pride Alliance
LGBTQ Cops: Out and Proud in Central Florida

What Special Challenges Are Faced by Gay Firefighters?
Transgender Firefighter Brooke Guinan: NYC Pride Parade Grand Marshal
LGBTQ Firefighter Anaré Holmes: Saving Lives and Building Community

Fire Department Closet: Being Gay in Bunker Gear
Info: LGBTQ Soldiers, Sailors and Pilots

LGBTQ Police Officers Facing Discrimination

UK Firefighters Clap Back at Homophobic Comments
Best Gay Romance Novels Featuring Firemen and Paramedics
Charmaine McGuffey: First Woman and LGBTQ Sheriff in Ohio
New York's LGBTQ Firefighters Share Their Coming Out Stories

What it's Like to be a Gay Cop in New Jersey

Info: LGBTQ Athletes

Memphis Fire Chief: Gina Sweat
Sexy Australian Firefighters and Their Pets

 

LGBTQ Fire and Rescue
 

One of the most rewarding parts of working in a public safety profession is the camaraderie available among colleagues and co-workers. Law enforcement, the fire service, and emergency medicine are all professions that face life-and-death situations on a daily basis. There is a strong bond that develops quickly through experiencing these events together. If you are a professional in one of these vocations who also happens to be gay, it can be difficult to connect with colleagues especially if you are closeted or work in an atmosphere surrounded by homophobia.

 

   


A gay firefighter faces many challenges in the fire station work environment. Some of these challenges are singular to gays, but many are shared with other individuals who are labeled as different and excluded from the group. It may be even more difficult for a gay male firefighter than a gay female firefighter to gain acceptance in his workplace, but both face challenges with obtaining benefits for partners, getting hired, and social issues within the group.

The atmosphere of the workplace itself can be difficult for gays and their straight coworkers. Firefighters work 24 hours shifts and have communal showers and sleeping quarters. Tension in the workplace is one of the most common and emotionally disturbing challenges for the gay firefighter. Sometimes other firefighters are unwilling to accept a gay firefighter as a colleague and equal. In a job like firefighting, it is very important for all members of the team to act as a cohesive unit. If coworkers cannot work with a gay firefighter, the whole team suffers.

 

Passionate Plea For and Against Police at Pride Events

LGBTQ Firefighter Is Putting Out Fires And Stereotypes
History of LGBTQ in Policing

LGBTQ Group Is Changing NYPD From Within
Gay UK Firefighter: Nick Couch

Kristin Crowley: Los Angeles's First Out, First Woman Fire Chief
Info: LGBTQ Soldiers, Sailors and Pilots

Police Used to Raid Gay Bars, Now They March in Pride Parades

Baltimore City Fire Department’s First LGBTQ Liaison

GOAL: Gay Officers Action League
NYC Pride Parade Bans Police: Gay Officers Disheartened
LGBTQ Stories: New York City Fire Department

Info: LGBTQ Athletes
Coming Out From Behind the Badge

 

 

LGBTQ Pioneer: Charlie Cochran

 

Charles Henry “Charlie” Cochrane Jr., a sergeant of the New York Police Department and the first out gay person on the force, founded the Gay Officers Action League

Charles Henry "Charlie" Cochrane, Jr. (1943-2008) was an American law enforcement officer and sergeant with the New York City Police Department. Following his delivery of public testimony on anti-discrimination legislation pending before the New York City Council, Cochrane became the first openly gay officer of the NYPD. He later helped to form the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).

Cochrane joined the New York City Police Department in 1967.  For the first 10 years of his time on the force, Cochrane kept his homosexuality a secret, known only to a limited circle of friends. He first came out to his patrol partner in 1977, gradually becoming less fearful over time, until by the early 1980s he believed that "hundreds of guys and women in the department" were aware of his sexual orientation.  Cochrane became a member of the NYPD's Manhattan South Task Force, rising to the rank of sergeant.

In 1981, the New York City Council announced plans to conduct hearings leading towards a ban on discrimination against gay citizens in the city. Cochrane believed it important for gay residents from a wide range of occupations to participate in the process and in the first week of November met with a group of nine friends and acquaintances who knew of his sexuality to discuss possible repercussions that he might suffer in the event that he himself gave public testimony on the matter. Deciding to move forward with the process, Cochrane met with his parents and came out as gay for the first time.

 



Cochrane wrote a letter to NYPD Police Commissioner Robert J. McGuire in November 1981, informing him of his intent to testify before the City Council on the matter, which he did at the witness table in front of the council five days later. In reading his prepared statement before the council, Cochrane thereby became the first New York City Police Department member to publicly announce his homosexuality.

Cochrane followed Pat Burns, first vice president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association to the witness stand, having heard Burns declare that he knew of no gay New York City police officers, and that he was opposed to the NYPD hiring homosexuals to the force.

Cochrane dramatically contradicted Burns' assertion, stating that he was "very proud of being a New York City policeman" and "equally proud of being gay." Cochrane further testified that gays were not cruel, wicked, cursed, sick, or possessed by demons. "I've always been gay", Cochrane declared to a slightly stunned council chamber, which erupted after a short pause into a raucous standing cheer from Cochrane's assembled supporters.

 

A news story that quoted journalist Andy Humm reported:  "He gets up and says, I'm proud to be a New York City police officer. And then he says, I'm equally proud to be gay. And the City Hall Chamber almost fell out."

 

Despite Cochrane's testimony, the New York City Council defeated this 1981 anti-discrimination proposal, leaving Cochrane largely unprotected by law to deal with any discriminatory consequences of his action.  He found the reaction surprisingly positive, noting in an interview by The New York Times that he had received about 15 letters from other NYPD officers in the two weeks after his testimony, almost all of which were positive, and had a positive discussion with a fellow officer who was black about stereotypes and prejudice.

Cochrane remarked at the time: "Everyone I talked to within the department felt I probably would meet a lot of negative response, but I could not believe the support."


The most hurtful reaction to Cochrane was a severing of personal relations by the officer who had originally persuaded Cochrane to join the police force following the public revelation of his sexuality. The dire warnings of other officers who had offered Cochrane advice before his testimony that by doing so he would be committing career suicide did not come to fruition.

Cochrane died of cancer in 2008 in Pompano Beach, Florida. He was 64 years old at the time of his death.

In June 2016, Cochrane's courageous 1981 testimony was honored with New York City street signs marking "Charles H. Cochrane Way", with the new signs unveiled at Washington Place and Sixth Avenue. At the unveiling ceremony NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill paid tribute to Cochrane's fortitude, noting "Charlie had come out as a gay cop during a time when gay cops were afraid of losing their jobs and of being physically harmed." He added that "through the efforts of Charlie, this is now a very different New York City than it was 35 years ago and it's a very different NYPD."

 

Openly Gay Officers in Norfolk Police Dept

International EMS and Firefighters Pride Alliance
LGBTQ Cops: Out and Proud in Central Florida

Info: LGBTQ Soldiers, Sailors and Pilots

Fire Department Closet: Being Gay in Bunker Gear
LGBTQ Police Officers Facing Discrimination

Best Gay Romance Novels Featuring Firemen and Paramedics
Charmaine McGuffey: First Woman and LGBTQ Sheriff in Ohio

Info: LGBTQ Athletes

What Special Challenges Are Faced by Gay Firefighters?
Transgender Firefighter Brooke Guinan: NYC Pride Parade Grand Marshal
LGBTQ Firefighter Anaré Holmes: Saving Lives and Building Community

New York's LGBTQ Firefighters Share Their Coming Out Stories

What it's Like to be a Gay Cop in New Jersey

Memphis Fire Chief: Gina Sweat
Sexy Australian Firefighters and Their Pets

 

 

Firehouse Forum: LGBTQ Issues

Are there any openly gay firefighters in your department?

--I'm sure this post will have some uneducated ignorant responses to it, but that's okay. I've become use to that over the years. I'm just curious if your department has any openly gay ff's and, if so, is there or has there been any issues come from that? I would like to think, or at least hope, that in this day and age, with the military (which I proudly served in) finally realizing there is and always will be gay service members and that they can do their jobs well, that the fire service has evolved as well.

Yes, I am an openly gay firefighter and have been in this business for going on 23 years. I'm a career firefighter in a department with approx 140 personnel. I am fortunate in that I work at a progressive department with amazing people that have accepted me for who I am. Yes, there are a few people in my department that may not be totally comfortable with it, but they still treat me with respect and I respect them. I do my job and do it well and they know they can depend on me at any time both at work and off work. I am happily partnered and, contrary to popular belief, just because I am a gay male doesn't mean I want you or that I will stare at you in the showers. The ff's on my shift in particular know they have nothing to worry about and never act weird in front of me changing or anything like that. I'm guessing that's some people's fear. My guys are a part of my life just as I am a part of theirs. They have all met my partner just as I have met their wives and they all treat him with respect and have welcomed my partner as part of their family. I'm fortunate to have good group of intelligent, respectful, understanding, and accepting people to work with.

So, I'm really curious as to how other openly gay firefighters are perceived in their departments and if there are any issues that have arisen from being open to your coworkers. Before anyone responds that your department doesn't have any gay ff's, I can pretty much guarantee you that's not the case, which is why I'm asking about "openly" gay ff's. I know I'm not the only one in my department but I'm the only open one. I actually feel bad for my other gay/bi coworkers that feel they need to hide who they are, but that's not my business. You have to handle that in your own way.

It's the 21st century and the days of discriminating, demoralizing, or disrespecting people because of their gender, race, sex, orientation, age, and religion is just plain ignorant. Be safe out there and come home alive. Much respect to all my fellow brothers and sisters for doing what we do day in day out!

 


 

Responses...

--Look seriously, who cares. The fears that some have are built on misconceptions and are frankly stupid. I couldn't begin to care less if you are gay, bi, transsexual, lesbian, black, white, Hispanic, or any other ethnicity, male, female, something in between, or even from another planet, as long as you treat me with respect, let me live as I choose, and when the job calls us to duty, you are able to perform. To me it is that simple. As long as what people do doesn't harm others, I am a live-and-let-live type of guy.

--As long as when it comes time to get the job done, they're right there to do what needs to be done, then I'm fine. This just doesn't count for gays. That can go for anyone; females, minorities, even other males for that matter. As long as they can get the job done, I'm fine with working with them.

--Who cares. I come from a Very Catholic and Very Irish family. Everybody thought it was a sin when my cousin married a black guy. It only took a few weeks for everybody to come around and now he is just one of the family and nobody really sees the color of his skin anymore.

And that's the way I feel. I don't care who it is that I'm working with, just so long as they can do the job and act in an honorable manner.

 

[Source: Firehouse Forum, Blog]
 

Passionate Plea For and Against Police at Pride Events

LGBTQ Firefighter Is Putting Out Fires And Stereotypes
History of LGBTQ in Policing

Kristin Crowley: Los Angeles's First Out, First Woman Fire Chief
Info: LGBTQ Soldiers, Sailors and Pilots

LGBTQ Group Is Changing NYPD From Within
Gay UK Firefighter: Nick Couch

Police Used to Raid Gay Bars, Now They March in Pride Parades

Baltimore City Fire Department’s First LGBTQ Liaison

GOAL: Gay Officers Action League

Info: LGBTQ Athletes

NYC Pride Parade Bans Police: Gay Officers Disheartened
LGBTQ Stories: New York City Fire Department
Coming Out From Behind the Badge

 

 

 

LGBTQ Protectors

Laurel Hester - Lieutenant, New Jersey State Police Department

Michele Fitzsimmons - Battalion Chief, New York City Fire Department

Mary Boyle - Officer, Chicago Police Department

Shannon Bennett - Deputy Sheriff, Broward County, Florida

Brooke Guinan - Firefighter, New York City Fire Department

Charles Henry “Charlie” Cochrane Jr - Sergeant, NYC Police Dept

Nick Couch - Firefighter, England

Kristin Crowley - Fire Chief, Los Angeles Fire Department

Anare Holmes - Firefighter, Atlanta Fire & Rescue

Janee Harteau - Police Chief, Minneapolis

Mack Bond - Firefighter, Memphis Fire Department

Anne Young - Lieutenant, San Francisco Fire Department

Charmaine McGuffey - Sheriff, Hamilton County, Ohio

Anaré Holmes - Firefighter, Atlanta Fire Rescue

Dorothy Knudson - Officer, Chicago Police Department

Ryan Randall Coffey - Firefighter, Everett (Washington) Fire Department

Keith Baraka - Firefighter, San Francisco Fire Department

Charles H Cochrane Jr - Sergeant, New York City Police Department

Bonnie Beers - Battalion Chief, Seattle Fire Department

Sue Sasso - Officer, Chicago Police Department

Gina Sweat - Fire Chief, Memphis Fire Department

James Tracy - Lieutenant, Englewood Cliffs Police Department (NJ)

Sharon Bretz - Fire Commissioner, San Francisco

Lance Garland - Firefighter, Seattle Fire Department

Karen Conway - Officer, Chicago Police Department

 

Openly Gay Officers in Norfolk Police Dept

International EMS and Firefighters Pride Alliance
LGBTQ Cops: Out and Proud in Central Florida

What Special Challenges Are Faced by Gay Firefighters?

Transgender Firefighter Brooke Guinan: NYC Pride Parade Grand Marshal
LGBTQ Firefighter Anaré Holmes: Saving Lives and Building Community

Fire Department Closet: Being Gay in Bunker Gear
UK Firefighters Clap Back at Homophobic Comments

LGBTQ Police Officers Facing Discrimination

Best Gay Romance Novels Featuring Firemen and Paramedics

Charmaine McGuffey: First Woman and LGBTQ Sheriff in Ohio
New York's LGBTQ Firefighters Share Their Coming Out Stories

What it's Like to be a Gay Cop in New Jersey

Memphis Fire Chief: Gina Sweat

Sexy Australian Firefighters and Their Pets

 

HOME

 


QUEER CAFE │ LGBTQ Information Network │ Established 2017