Professional golfer Maya Reddy has shared her story of being a queer athlete of color in a sport that is so often lily-white. In her powerful story, Reddy talked about the importance of golf in her life.

I loved the way it felt when I crushed a 7 iron from the rough, and the way the ball spun off of a fried-egg bunker shot, but most of all, I loved the way golf empowered me and how it leveled the playing field. Golf felt genderless—all your scorecard cared about was whether you were good. And I didn’t want to be just good. I wanted to be the best.

She also shared the importance of the support of her teammates, something we have come to expect when LGBTQ athletes come out to those around them. Reddy played for Claremont Mudd Scripps in Southern California.

After I came out, my team, my family, was still there as both a safety net and source of empowerment, particularly when we played events in the South or with individuals who weren’t as cool with people who were not straight, white, or cisgender. When I was in college, I knew that people were judging me for my ethnic identity and sexual orientation, but it didn’t scare me because I had my team on the course and off, rooting for me.

Unfortunately, Reddy has experienced both racism and homophobia in the sport, as she recounts one particular moment that left an indelible mark in her memory.

As I listened, I heard spiteful jokes about Middle-Eastern and South Asian ethnicities, peppered with homophobic asides. With every joke came a laugh, and with every laugh I tasted a sickly bile rise in my throat as my stomach flipped.

Be sure to read Reddy’s entire story on Athlete Ally’s Web site.

You can follow Maya Reddy on Instagram @mredds, or on Twitter @MayaReddy.

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