ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Lt. Brandon Ragan hid who he was from his colleagues for years.
He said he was afraid he would face judgment for being gay.
Then, in 2009, Ragan became a victim of domestic violence when his then-boyfriend stabbed him.
“I can honestly say it was one of the worst days of my life when it occurred, but also one of the best days as well,” said Ragan.
In that moment, he said he faced several struggles at once.
“After I was slashed, the only thing I was thinking about was, ‘How can I disarm this individual, stop my arm from bleeding and figure out how I’m going to explain this?,’” said Ragan.
When the story came out, Ragan said he was also forced to come out.
“It’s kind of like you’re getting kicked out of the closet, and the door’s slamming shut and there’s no turning back at this point, right?,” he said.
Ragan said what came next was the exact opposite of what he expected.
“I progressed through leadership at the sheriff’s office, I started as a deputy, worked my way through patrol, through investigation, I’ve been a supervisor in investigations and patrol, I’ve been a lieutenant,” he said.
But Ragan said he knows not everyone’s coming-out experience is as encouraging. That’s why he’s using his rank to rally behind others.
“And it may not be they want to be in the police profession, it may be something else, but at least they have someone they can look to and say, ‘If he went through all that, I can accomplish what he’s done as well,’” said Ragan.
Ragan said since sharing his story on the Orange County Sheriff’s Office webpage, he’s had dozens of people reach out to him in support.
The sheriff’s department also has several resources for the LGBTQ+ community, including six community liaisons.
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