Young queer athletes have someone new to look up to this week. Pro golfer Mel Reid, who is known for her amazing six Ladies European Tour wins and advocacy for gender equality, officially came out on Monday when she joined Athlete Ally. Athlete Ally seeks to increase LGBTQ visibility and equality through ending homophobia in sports. Although Reid was always open with her family and close friends about her sexuality, she wasn’t convinced that she needed a public coming out. That changed after a friend encouraged her to speak more publicly about her identity.
In a post on the Athlete Ally website, Reid explained that while she has found a very welcoming community in golf, many of the countries where she plays still criminalize or frown upon homosexuality. She explained, “The only issues I have had is when I have taken my girlfriend with me to dinners or awards, and I’m very conscious 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.”
Reid is not keeping quiet anymore, however, explaining that she wanted to be part of Athlete Ally because she feels that it is “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.” She hopes that golf will become even more inclusive and that her involvement with Athlete Ally will encourage more diversity in sports.
Mega-famous queer athlete, tennis-star Billie Jean King, also weighed in on Reid’s news, tweeting, “Cheers to @melreidgolf, an incredible athlete and now a courageous champion for living an authentic life, and encouraging others to do the same.”