Mel Reid, a three-time member of the European Solheim Cup team, took to Twitter to announce publicly her sexual orientation. She joined with Athlete Ally, an organization that’s working to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports, and stated that she is gay. Athlete Ally published a Q&A with Reid, who has won six times on the Ladies European Tour and has two top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour, about her experiences as a gay professional athlete.
In the interview, the 31-year-old from England describes the process of coming out to her family as a good experience, saying her family is liberal and fully embraced her sexuality. Similarly, on the LPGA Tour she says she has found a welcoming environment, free of judgement towards sexuality. But as an athlete who travels the world, Reid says she’s fully aware that in some countries, it’s illegal to be gay. She’s also been hyper-aware of the perception people may have of her outside of her family and the tour.
“The only issues I have had is when I have taken my girlfriend with me to dinners or awards,” Reid told Athlete Ally, “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 has been a professional golfer for more than a decade, having turned pro in 2007. In that time, she says she has matured in how she thinks about other people’s opinions of her sexuality.
“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 told Athlete Ally. “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 played in 20 LPGA events in 2018, her second full season on tour, earning $79,363.