Since 1982, the Gay Officers Action League has moved to put a dark chapter in the NYPD's past behind them, while bridging divides between themselves and the people they're sworn to protect.
Not long after New York City police Detective Brian Downey slides into a corner seat at Philip Marie, a restaurant serving American comfort classics in Manhattan's West Village, the owner drops by. He's all smiles as he shakes Downey's hand, welcoming him back for the umpteenth time.
"This place is good for us. They support us," Downey says. "I want to support people who support us."
Support is something of a loaded word for Downey. As a member of the NYPD, his job is to help and protect the public at large. But as the president of the force's only LGBTQ fraternal organization - the Gay Officers Action League, or GOAL - his other role is to serve and support his brothers and sisters dressed in blue … and rainbows.
It wasn't always this way. In fact, the gay rights movement was born out of a riot against the police. In 1969, New York City officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, sparking violent protests and clashes that lasted six days.
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