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  WINDY CITY TIMES

First out gay male Chicago police officer on family, career, volunteering
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2018-10-17

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Retired Chicago Police Department ( CPD ) officer Ronald Bogan saw it all during his three decades on the force.

This includes a suspect who hid in the axel of a truck so he could not be found by the police but when the driver started the truck and tried to drive away the person's body parts went flying all over the place.

Another time, Bogan was chasing a suspect who ended up jumping from the second story of a building and impaling himself on the spears on top of a wrought iron gate.

Bogan said the most bizarre incident occurred when he had to guard a person's head that had been severed from his body when a truck hit him.

These are just a few of the many stories Bogan told Windy City Times about his time as a beat patrol officer and district evidence technician.

It was when Bogan moved on to the Civil Rights Division to work on hate crimes cases in 1992 that his life changed forever. That was the moment he came out to the world as a gay man in a Chicago Tribune article. Bogan holds the distinction of being the first out gay police man in Chicago. Mary Boyle was the first out police officer.

Bogan said he knew he was gay when he was a little boy and so did his great grandmother but, like many families at the time, it was not talked about, just understood. His great grandmother helped raise him and his sister Francine ( who is lesbian ) alongside their mother. He said his first boyfriend Joshua was embraced by his family when he would come to their holiday dinners.

"It was a requirement to come out publicly before I joined the hate crimes unit," said Bogan. "One of the reasons why I was recruited into the Civil Rights Divisions was so I could help recruit other gay and lesbian people into the police force."

Bogan said the largest number of hate crimes were LGBT related, then anti-Semitic and finally racially motivated.

"When I first got into the unit, hate crimes against LGBT people were a misdemeanor but later it became a class four felony," said Bogan. "With that classification, detectives and the state's attorney were able to get involved in these cases."

Bogan's desire to be a police officer began while he was attending Dunbar High School but he had to put those thoughts aside since at the time then Mayor Richard J. Daley was fighting the desegregation of the police department.

"When I went to Eastern Illinois University I decided to get a degree that would result in a job after I graduated until I could become a police officer," said Bogan. "My sister and I were the only people from our South Side Ida B. Wells project building to go to college. I ended up on the dean's list, was the first sophomore ever picked to be an resident assistant and was the president of our fraternity—Phi Beta Sigma. I graduated with a BA in speech communication and radio/TV production with a teacher certification."

For three years, Bogan taught fifth, sixth and seventh grades as a cadre substitute at the grammar school he attended as a child. When Bogan was 25 years old he moved on to Controlled Data Corporation and all its subsidiaries as the Midwest Regional Personnel Administrator.

"This was at a time when a Black man in corporate management was rare," said Bogan, "I held that job for two and a half years."

During that time, Bogan applied to be a police officer but it was not until Daley died and his successor Michael Bilandic said he would not fight the desegregation of the police force that his dream was realized. This was in December 1978 and at the same time women were also finally able to join the police force. Bogan said he had a couple of women partners over the years.

After Bogan retired from the CPD in 2007, he became the Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Human Services. Bogan and his team would provide food boxes for needy people, respond to domestic fires, help people during heat waves and cold snaps find shelter locations and get homeless people into shelters.

To reduce his blood pressure, Bogan left that job and became a security officer at Roosevelt University from 2010 to 2015.

"While I was a police officer, I got my master's degree in community counseling from Roosevelt and that helped me interact with the students there when I was a security guard," said Bogan.

Bogan and husband Curtis Lawrence ( a Columbia College journalism professor ) have been together for 26 years. They got married in spring 2014, a few months after Illinois legalized same-sex marriage.

In 2016, Bogan was inducted into Chicago's LGBT Hall of Fame.

"The ceremony was great because Curtis was there and so was my sister Francine [St. Clair] and her partner, my foster son Antione [Green] flew in from Atlanta and my best friend and his wife and daughter were also there," said Bogan.

Over the years, Bogan has volunteered for a variety of organizations including Open Hand Chicago, TPAN, Center on Halsted ( when it was known as Horizon's Community Center ) and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Chicago where he mentored two young men. At Open Hand, Bogan helped deliver meals to South Side residents. His buddy role at TPAN involved assisting newly diagnosed HIV-positive people navigate their lives.

"At Horizon's, I was the gay youth advisor and one of the kids whom I mentored eventually became a police officer," said Bogan. "One day I was at police headquarters and the elevator door opened and he was standing there. He was a Deputy Superintendent at the time and then left the police department and became Mayor Richard Daley's Chief of Staff which meant he was my boss when I was working in the Department of Human Services."

Bogan told Windy City Times he is worried about the current state of politics today because it is so divisive.

"I think there is going to have to be another massive, intersectional civil rights movement to combat the hate coming from Trump and his supporters," said Bogan.


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