Six time Ladies European Tour winner Mel Reid has come out as gay, stating that she no longer feels the need to protect her sexuality in order to 'get more sponsors'.
The Solheim Cup star bravely decided to publicly announce her coming out through a new partnership with Athlete Ally, who did a Q&A with Reid about joining the brand and her decision to talk about her sexuality.
In the Q&A, Reid talked about how important it was for her 'to always fight for equality', and why that feeling of encouraging people to be themselves influenced her decision to be more open about a topic not widely discussed in the sport.
"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."
Reid, 31, credited the Ladies European Tour for being 'a very welcoming community', making it clear that it is 'rare' any players would have a problem, but that places they play and sponsors they attract did have an impact on how long it's taken her to talk about her sexuality.
"The only problem we run into is that being gay is still illegal or frowned upon in certain countries we play in," Reid said.
"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 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 further explained that she realised she doesn't want to be represented by brands if that means she has to hide her true self, and also offered advice to fellow young LGBTQ athletes.
"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."