LPGA golfer Mel Reid, a six-time Ladies European Tour winner, Monday detailed her decision to come out out as gay.
“There is only one of you in the world and you have one life, so be the best version of yourself and be proud of who you are,” she said in a “Q & A” post on the Athlete Ally site.
Reid said the move to come out was part of a greater mission. “It’s important for me to always fight for equality,” she said.
She said the pro golf community has been very “welcoming” to her and she said it was “rare” when anyone had an issue with her sexuality or her positions on issues of gay rights and equality.
“The only problem we run into is that being gay is still illegal or frowned upon in certain countries we play in,” she said. “There are also a lot of male-dominated sponsors that are looking for certain types of players, so that’s why I have felt I can’t be quite as open as I would like to be when it comes to my personal life,” she told Athlete Ally.
During the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek, Reid spoke openly about the income disparity between golfers on the PGA Tour and in the LPGA.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equality, obviously, but we’re quite aware we’ll never get equal pay in golf,” Reid said in May. “Wouldn’t it be great if one (big manufacturer) said: “You know what, instead of giving Dustin Johnson $12 million, we’re not just going to talk about equality, we’re actually going to give him and, say, Michelle Wie, the same amount and promote them equally.”
Reid will serve as an Athlete Ally Pro Ambassador moving forward. She is currently sponsored by Nike and Land Rover.
Reid said all of women’s sports has much ground to cover when it comes to inclusion of gay athletes and overall growth. One way would be to get the support of more women from the corporate sector.
“At the LPGA, we have a great relationship with so many companies, but would love to have more women come to events and publicly support women in sport. I think this would make a big difference and create more exposure opportunities for us players. I’d also love to see more equipment companies in general support women and show our faces in stores and in ads,” she said.
Her sexualty was not a prominent concern until she began playing professionally.
“Looking back on it, I knew from quite a young age, but then never thought about it during my teenage years. It then crept up on me again when I started playing on Tour, meeting new people and traveling the world. I fell in love with a girl and I was excited about it,” she told Athlete Ally. “I was very lucky my entire family is very liberal and embraced it totally.”
There have been situations where Reid has taken her girlfriend on social outings but felt the need to exercise discretion when describing their relationship “because of the culture around the sport and the assumption that the sponsors would want to keep that part of my life quiet.”
Reid detailed her love of golf from when she was a soccer player as a young girl. She became introduced to the game because her mother wanted to keep her busy during summer.
“There are so many reasons why I love the game, but the biggest for me is how challenging it is, and that it really brings out your true character by exposing your weaknesses and more importantly your strengths.”
Reid also offered some advice to young LGBTQ athletes who are wondering if they can be themselves and play sports they love.
“I protected my sexuality for a long time because I thought I had to in order to help my career and to get more sponsors. But then I started to wonder why these companies would want to sponsor me and have me represent them if I can’t be my authentic self. There is only one of you in the world and you have one life, so be the best version of yourself and be proud of who you are. That’s when you attract the right people around you to make you better, and ultimately, happier.”