There was a time when pride was a private thing on the LPGA, a celebration whispered within the Tour, the shared strength of family quietly nurturing and caring for its diverse membership. Now, Pride Month is shouted loudly, thanks to those players, like Mel Reid, who’ve publicly shared their homosexuality and all those within the Tour’s family who’ve supported them.
Golf’s global tour is a brilliant snapshot of the rich mosaic of differences that is the essence of the human spirit. The LPGA Tour is perhaps the most complicated entity in the world of professional sports. Its players come in all size, shapes and colors, representing the complexity of life, racially, ethnically and in terms of sexual orientation.
This diversity, truly, is the strength upon which the LPGA builds its brand. Each week, not only does the Tour give highly skilled athletes an opportunity to showcase their talents, it also provides them a platform on which to demonstrate their individuality. The LPGA calendar has Pride Month 12 times a year. Each week, the Tour promotes the diversity of its players.
“Pride month for me is all about inclusion,” says Reid, who came out as Gay to the tens of millions of LPGA fans late in 2018. “It’s a month that hopefully educates people and brings awareness to the LGBTQ community.”
For Reid, openness was part of a process in which she gained control of some of the professional disappointments in her life and helped her come to grips with the intensely personal loss of her mother, Joy, in a car crash in 2012 when she was on the way to watch Mel compete in an LET event.
Openness also allowed Reid to realize that she is part of a much larger LBGTQ community and that her LPGA Tour family is with her every step of the way.
“I hope that it keeps progressing the way it has done the last few years,” says Reid. “People have literally sacrificed their lives to make Pride Month happen, so for me it’s extremely important our generation and the next generation understand this and keep pushing for inclusion.”
Indeed, Pride Month falls in June to honor the Stonewall Demonstrations in New York City that began on June 28, 1968, and lasted several days as thousands took to the streets to demand equal rights for the Gay community. Reid is also aware that there have been those before her on the LPGA Tour who competed in a different time and could not be was open.
“I think the great thing about the LPGA tour is it’s always been a global tour.,” says Reid. “The past year I feel players have stepped up on matters they believe. I’m extremely proud of what the organization is doing and being driven forward by the players.”
Part of what the LPGA brings to Pride Month is that sense of celebrating diversity. The Tour provides a way for gifted athletes to compete – and make a living – but it also provides them an opportunity to grow as people by embracing that diversity.
The LPGA Tour is an organization that has long marketed itself with the slogan: “See how it’s different out here.” That has always been a multilayered slogan and in Pride Month it takes on a special meaning. The LPGA Tour is all about supporting the ways in which each of its individual players is different.
Members of the LBGTQ community know they have a friend in the LPGA Tour. The oldest continuous professional sports organization for women has fought discrimination in many forms over its 71 years – whether it involve gender, race or sexual orientation.
With her brave words, Mel Reid walked through an extremely important personal door and the LPGA Tour is there professionally to make certain that the door remains open. Other women will join Reid on her journey and the LPGA Tour will be there to support those who chose to be part of the golf family.
Pride Month is a time to acknowledge the past, embrace the present and set goals for the future. It’s a time for women like Reid to share their stories. It’s a time for all of us to thank them for their role in making pride possible.
Every week at its tournaments the LPGA Tour and its sponsors provide opportunity that offers rewards based on one thing – ability. Golf’s global tour has always thrown the flaps to its tent open wide and the LBGTQ community is a rich part of the talented and multifaceted mixture that has entered.
For the LPGA Tour, Pride Month celebrates a special component of women’s golf. And that’s a celebration that’s just beginning.