PHOENIX — Coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community is often the hardest decision for young people to make, especially coming out to their families.
After retired Scottsdale police officer Johnnie Ghiglia's son Chase came out to him nearly eight years ago, he decided to not only love and accept him but to do something more for the LGBTQ community as a whole.
Johnnie said that Chase was concerned his father would not accept him because of his profession.
“He did have a concern that I was currently a cop," said Johnnie. "He’s like, 'well dad you have friends that I think have big egos and are macho guys.'”
Johnnie's response was that nothing could stop his love for Chase.
“'Chase you are my son; I love you unconditionally, it’s very easy for me,'" said Johnnie. "If those people can’t accept my son for who he is, then they are no longer a friend of mine.”
His support turned into action in 2018.
Together, Chase and Johnnie launched their non-profit Out Is The New In. The organization sells brand apparel to give back and support the LGBTQ youth regarding suicide prevention, mental health and homelessness.
Johnnie remembers his first Pride event in Flagstaff that same year.
“I drove up there by myself; set up a booth just had conversations of Chase coming out, my reaction, our conversation," said Johnnie. "I had people on the other side of the table just break down and get very emotional because their parents had not accepted them for who they were when they came out.”
After retiring from the force in 2019, Johnnie's love for his son and the LGBTQ community turned into his passion.
“The ally makes up the largest part of our society and we need their support, help and protection," said Phoenix Pride Program Manager, Eva Steele. "Chase has that in Johnnie and their story is an amazing story.”
Johnnie's message to any parent struggling with acceptance is simple.
"You love them unconditionally because they are your child.”
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