Finding Purpose in the Pines

By Johnnie Ghiglia


My career with the Scottsdale PD spanned for over 20 years. It was a demanding often stressful job, yet rewarding as well. So when my son ‘came out’ no one was quite sure how I would react. (Years earlier, when Chase was just five years old, my wife had a feeling he was gay and wisely prepared me for the possibility.)


At 17, Chase finally confided in us. His voice trembled as he admitted one of his biggest fears was that my guy cop buddies wouldn’t accept him. Right there, the precinct faded away. All I saw was my son, and the love that burned brighter than any badge. I squeezed his shoulder, a silent vow forming. No one, would ever define who Chase was in my eyes.

Profoundly impacted by Chase’s bravery in coming out, my wife and I knew we had to act. We wanted to find a way to support him and others in the LGBTQ+ community. During a heartfelt conversation, the idea for “Out Is The New In” was born. We loved the catchiness of the phrase and its message of acceptance. Soon after, Chase and I designed t-shirts and hats, vowing to donate a portion of sales to local non-profits focused on suicide prevention, mental health, and homelessness.

Fueled by a desire to make a difference, I attended my first Pride event, Pride in the Pines in Flagstaff, in 2018. There, I met countless individuals who shared their powerful stories of longing for parental acceptance. These encounters solidified my commitment to OITNI’s mission.

Their stories hit hard. Hearing how rejection impacted their mental health was heartbreaking. Many confided in struggles with drugs and alcohol, while others faced bullying or even suicidal thoughts. I never realized the depth of emotional pain endured by so many within the LGBTQ+ community.

In that moment, the desire to help transcended anything I’d ever imagined. It felt like my purpose clicked into place.


Fast forward to 2024

We have rebranded OITNI and are out in the community at events showing support, love, a safe space and acceptance to those who need it.

Since retiring from the force in January of 2021, Out Is The New In is now a (501©3). I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to launch a Mental Health podcast focusing on people sharing their personal stories of coming out, trauma, addiction, sobriety and resilience.


Current numbers and information from 2023:

41% of LGBTQ+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year

14% of LGBTQ+ young people attempted suicide in the past year

56% of LGBTQ+  young people who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it

Fewer than 40% of LGBTQ+ young people found their home to be LGBTQ+ affirming


Mental Health & Suicide Risk:

LGBTQ+ young people are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity but rather placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society.

At least 510 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures across the US last year alone, compared to 42 bills in 2018.  Reviewing the information above is why I am doing what I can to support and give back to these truly many amazing, strong people.


A way to help and support LGBTQ+ young people:

LGBTQ+ young people report lower rates of attempting suicide when they have access to affirming spaces — and they want the people in their lives to learn more about how to support them and the basics of LGBTQ+ identities. And most importantly, just be KIND to each other! We have no idea what someone else is going through, be a kind human to another human. It truly takes zero effort!


Want to learn more about OITNI?


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Contact: [email protected]