Christmas Eve with Leslie Cochran

Leslie Cochran is without question the most famous cross dressing homeless person in Austin. Really a figurehead for the “Keep Austin Weird” campaign. I last saw him on Friday Oct 2 at the entrance of the ACL fest, but according to news reports he suffered a serious head injury the next day of which he’s still recovering. Our thoughts and best intentions are with him and his recovery.

I pulled up some photos I’ve taken of Leslie, including a series of shots taken on Christmas Eve 2007 at Leon and Stella’s annual Christmas Eve Party.

Austin's Leslie Chirstmas Eve 2007
Austin’s Leslie Cochran Chirstmas Eve 2007
The Late Leslie Cochran Chirstmas Eve 2007 Brian Birzer
Leslie Cochran Chirstmas Eve 2007
Austin's Leslie Cochran Chirstmas Eve 2007
Austin’s Leslie Cochran Chirstmas Eve 2007
Austin's Leslie Cochran Eeyore's Birthday copyright Brian Birzer
Austin’s Leslie Cochran Eeyore’s Birthday


an update to this post via Wikipedia:

Around 1:00 a.m. on the Saturday morning of October 3, 2009, Cochran was found unconscious outdoors and was transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge in critical condition. Within two weeks he had regained consciousness and was transferred to a rehabilitation center. When he was released, on October 23, 2009, Cochran reported that he had been attacked after commenting to a group of people about the dangers of drug abuse.

On February 27, 2012, St. David’s South Austin Hospital confirmed Cochran was in their hospital in critical condition. The circumstances of his illness/injury were not known. Cochran had been in declining health since suffering his head injury in October 2009. On March 4, 2012, he regained consciousness after undergoing brain surgery two weeks prior. However, that was not considered a sign of improvement in his overall condition. Cochran was then moved to a local hospice,where he died on March 8, 2012, aged 60.

Cochran’s death produced an outpouring of strong emotion and condolences. The Austin City Council observed a moment of silence in his honor.  Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell proclaimed March 8, 2012 and every March 8 forward Leslie Day in Austin.The official proclamation called him “an icon in the Keep Austin Weird scene” who provided “an indelible image” in the memories of many Austin visitors and tourists over the years.”He was an icon for the homeless in Austin, he represented them in so many ways. We will observe a moment of silence in his honor,” said Leffingwell. “He represents just so much that is good about Austin. We’re going to miss it and that little part of Austin is now gone forever,” said Austin City Council member Mike Martinez.  A “Love For Leslie” parade and public service march was held on March 8 from City Hall to 6th Street. Public visitation took place on March 9 at Cook-Walden Funeral Home, followed by a private funeral mass and burial.A public memorial service in his honor was held on March 11 at Auditorium Shores, attended by hundreds. Several editorials have since eulogized Leslie’s passing, painting a legacy that reflects upon his homeless advocacy as well as Austin’s known tendencies toward eccentricity and tolerance.

Please check out the Documentary “Becoming Leslie” that features some of the photos I took during the 2000’s and 2010’s.