British pro golfer Mel Reid has come out as gay and become an ambassador for Athlete Ally, which advocates for LGBTQ inclusion and equality in sports.
“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,” Reid said in an interview published Monday on the Athlete Ally website. “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.”
Reid, 31, is a six-time winner of the Ladies European Tour and is a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
The golf tour is a welcoming environment, she said, and she has been out to many of her fellow athletes. However, she has played in some countries where being gay is criminalized or at least “frowned upon,” she said in the interview, which along with concerns about sponsor backlash kept her from coming out earlier to the general public. She added that there have been no problems with her family members since she came out to them — they have always been supportive.
She became an Athlete Ally ambassador, she said, “because I feel it’s important for people to be themselves. … It’s important for me to always fight for equality.” In addition to advocating for LGBTQ equality, she’s fighting for greater support for women’s golf, both from equipment companies and spectators, she added.
Reid tweeted out a link to her Athlete Ally interview and quickly got a shout-out from tennis legend Billie Jean King, who’s also a lesbian and an activist.