English professional golfer Mel Reid, winner of six Ladies European Tour titles and two Solheim Cups, announced on Monday that she has joined Athlete Ally as an ambassador and in doing so, publicly revealed that she is gay.
“The Tour is a very welcoming community, and it’s rare that anyone has an issue with sexuality or openly express any issues,” Reid said in a Q&A article with Athlete Ally. “The only problem we run into is that being gay is still illegal or frowned upon in certain countries we play in. 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.
“I have always had good friends around me and supporting me, so I have never run into any huge issues with it during my career. The only issues I have had is when I have taken my girlfriend with me to dinners or awards, and I’m very conscious of how I introduce her depending on the environment I’m in, because of the culture around the sport and the assumption that the sponsors would want to keep that part of my life quiet.”
— Mel Reid (@melreidgolf) December 10, 2018
Reid received nearly unanimous support from the golf community following her announcement, and she expressed her interest in providing that same support to others who find themselves in similar situations.
“I wanted to be part of Athlete Ally because I feel it’s important for people to be themselves,” Reid said. “Just because they love someone that may not be ‘socially correct’, it does not make them any less of a person. It’s important for me to always fight for equality. I’ve been fortunate to have a platform to reach a lot of people and I’ve tried to take advantage of that when I can. Athlete Ally helps spread that message even further and I’m very excited to join the team.
“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.”
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) December 10, 2018
Reid will be playing her third season on the LPGA Tour in 2019.