Interview with a Gay Cop

Want to know what it was really like being a gay cop in the heydays of New York City? Here’s a flashback to our celebrated piece, “Interview with a Gay Cop,” from our Crime and Punishment issue from the Spring of ’95, in which the anonymous retired officer recounts his experiences working around fit young men and hostile coworkers and how the line between cop and criminal could so easily get blurred.

The combination of being gay and being a cop in the 70’s and 80’s on the Lower East Side “calls for the ultimate amount of discretion on the job.” One can only imagine.

This piece forces you to consider how much things have changed. And how much they haven’t. At the time of the interview, many in the homosexual community had to hide their sexuality from society, constantly fearful of being exposed because of the potential repercussions. The repercussions for this officer must have loomed large. Yet he remained energetic in his love. And here you can read about when he did actually out himself to another cop. Exposing himself was a risky, potentially career-ending move, and it was incredibly brave.

Times have changed since then; the LGBTQ community is one of the most (if not the most) outspoken and active communities in the US. Gay rights are supported by a vast majority of voters and policy reflects that. However, the discrimination that the gay cop faced and feared thirty years ago remains even today in many branches of the justice system and the armed forces. Toxic attitudes, such as those behind “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” manifest in acts of workplace harassment. Gay cops today still have to endure that discrimination in the course of doing their job: protecting the public.

It’s easy to forget the difficulties that people like the gay cop in Alberelli’s interview had to face. But reading about the discrimination he encountered then forces us to consider the discrimination people like him face now. It is up to us, the members of our world community, to discuss these challenges and continue to report hard truths.

–Kesser Frankiel