(EDGE) On Friday, a gay New York City police officer was posthumously honored when Greenwich Village block was named in his honor. The move came 35 years after NYPD Sgt. Charles Cochrane came out publicly during a City Council hearing on gay rights.
The block between Sixth Avenue and Washington Place is now named "Sgt. Charles H. Cochrane Way."
"Charlie possessed the instincts, the composure and the eye for detail that helped him excel in every aspect of police work," NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill said. "Charlie knew every law, every department procedure and treated everyone he encountered with the utmost respect."
"Today we co-named the intersection of Washington Place and Sixth Avenue in honor of Sgt. Charles H. Cochrane," said openly gay NYC Councilman Corey Johnson during the dedication ceremony on Friday. "In 1981, Sgt. Cochrane broke a major barrier when he came out publicly as a gay veteran of the NYPD. He went on to found the Gay Officers Action League, which to this day fights for the dignity of LGBT police officers. He is a true legend who paved the way for all of us!"
According to DNAInfo, in 1981, then-Patrolmen's Benevolent Association Vice President Pat Burns spoke out against a gay rights bill at a City Council hearing. He claimed that he didn't know of any openly gay policemen.
Cochrane stood up at that hearing and came out as a gay man.
"He said, I've got to do this," Cochrane's sister Mary Anne Cochrane Sundresh said of her brother Friday. "To know the community not just here in New York but around the world has kept it going, it shows the spirit."
Cochrane died of cancer in 2008.
Cochrane's sister remarked on the recent massacre in Orlando to point to how far the LGBT community has come since her brother came out in the early 1980's.
"Do you really think that 35 years ago thousands of people would stand in line and donate blood for six or seven hours, would they do that when they think it's for that community?" she asked.
"That's how far we've come."