Being a former Division 1 soccer player, I have the mentality of a workhorse. We were taught to do things the right way, never cut corners and to never let anyone see your struggle. I value integrity. In fact, I tend to overthink things to the point of hiding in many situations.
I had a conversation last week with a co-worker when discussing our upcoming Arizona Diamondbacks Pride Night. She is one of the most supportive staff members I work with. She asked why I decided to organize the event. I told her that I want to get better about having daily conversations and including my girlfriend.
I said, “It’s tough coming out in almost every conversation, every day.”
She looked at me and said, “Why should it matter? You are who you are and it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Why don’t you tell everyone?”
Right then and there I knew she was right and that I need to get better about being proud of who I am at Chase Field.
I was out to my teammates up in Flagstaff, Ariz,. playing for Northern Arizona University. It was a special chapter of my life. I was playing incredibly well during the pre-season of my senior year, and my coach had seen that. He knew that I was gay, but I hadn’t come out to him. He sat me down in the bleachers for a talk.
“It’s okay to be yourself,” he said. “I know this is going to be an incredible year for you and I want you to know that I am here for you.”
His approval and support was just what I needed to have the most successful season of my career. Being out made my time at NAU something I will never forget. A strong and supportive team is key in making a comfortable environment.
I’m not one to hide my relationship. I was out to coffee with my youngest sister the other day and I asked her about telling my story. She agreed, my life is just kind of… average. “Normal,” whatever that means. My girlfriend and I have a corgi and have lived together for about a year. We both enjoy watching sports, eating pizza and wings, and traveling to Disneyland each summer.
I get frustrated with false assumptions associated with “lesbian” or “gay.” Someone once jokingly asked me if I will cut my hair, I guess to “look” like a lesbian. I’ve heard “You and your girlfriend are too pretty to be gay.” I’ve had family members ask me why I wear hats so often because “it makes you look like a boy.”
Trust me, just because I say I am fortunate and things are going fairly well with friends, family and co-workers, I still get murmurs.
My family had some questions and concerns when I came out. My parents had struggled with it, although they claim they had known for a while. To this day it is a process for them, but my mom recently shared a pride post on Facebook. I’d say that’s progress!
My middle sister was the easiest and most supportive with my coming out. She is always the first to support me. When I asked her about writing this story, she shot me this note that meant a lot to me:
Growing up, Noel has always been the brave one. Whether it be climbing trees at a young age or facing opponents twice her size on the soccer field, Noel has never been one to shy away from a challenge. The night she came out to my parents, I was terrified for her. I couldn’t be there for her so she put me on speaker phone and swore she’d keep me on the line just in case. At the last second when I heard the garage door open over the phone, Noel told me she ‘had this’ and hung up quickly. There’s that bravery again. Flash forward five years and I’ve never been more proud to be her sister or ally. I’m so grateful for the Arizona Diamondbacks who have provided her and her fellow LGBTQIA community members with a safe, welcoming and loving space for her to thrive in the years to come.
As a Senior Account Executive for the Arizona Diamondbacks in our Season Ticket Services department, my job is to create relationships with season ticket holders. I’m responsible for ensuring their overall satisfaction. I get to interact with ticket holders every game, and a lot of the times on a deeper level. They trust in me to make their family’s experience at the ballpark enjoyable, and companies trust that they will receive value for their purchase.
The very first day I started working in sports, I had no idea what this meant for me and my sexuality.
Within the first year, and after many coming-out conversations over and over again in private social settings, I thought there must be an easier way to do this, to come out to everyone in my life. I started incorporating things like bringing in photos of my girlfriend or finally telling my boss that I was going on vacation with her. Then I began to bring her to social outings, holiday parties and other corporate outings.
Before I knew it, I was totally out of the closet.
I had been afraid that being gay would jeopardize my work ethic. It’s never easy coming out in daily conversations. Yet in time, it does get easier. Although everyone seems to know about her, there still is a fine line that gets crossed. Coworkers are either scared to ask about my personal life or they don’t feel comfortable.
The reason I had decided to put together a Pride Night is because I feel like there’s still work to do tying sports with the LGBTQ community. I know I can work within the organization to make sure co-workers feel comfortable being out.
Today, I am one of a few team employees who are out. Last year we had openly gay MLB vice-president Billy Bean come speak to our organization, and that sparked something intrinsically. I knew that if the D-backs had gone out of their way to make the few out employees feel included with the team, then I could feel comfortable at work every day.
If I can use this night as my small contribution to the community, then that’s great. I have a sense of accountability to make sure the work we do really resonates. Sports can unify different social circles.
I know that change can happen, even at a baseball stadium.
Story editor: Cyd Zeigler