Being Out is a feature that looks at LGBTQ people in sports who have come out since Outsports first published in 1999. Today: Los Angeles Dodgers executive Erik Braverman.
Erik Braverman is a perfect example of the importance of LGBTQ people being out in sports. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Braverman, a Los Angeles Dodgers senior vice president who is openly gay, is the driving force behind the team’s highly successful LGBTQ Pride night. Last year’s game drew the team’s biggest regular season crowd in seven years, with 11,000 tickets sold through the Pride promotion.
Braverman was instrumental in making the night special.
“I did create Pride Night at Dodger Stadium in 2013 where we made it more than just a ticket pack for a small group of fans,” Braverman told Outsports. “Rather, I worked to program the entire night around celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride, from pregame kickball in the outfield by the Varsity Gay League, to the ribbon boards and scoreboards proudly proclaiming it LGBT Pride Night around the stadium.
“We honor a number of people from the community in our pregame ceremonies and program things like the national anthem, first pitch and Military Hero of the Game to feature members of the LGBTQ+ community. We feature same-sex couples on our popular Kiss-Cam feature in-game and we go out of our way to make Dodger Stadium a fun and inclusive space for everyone in attendance.
“I truly believe that our authentic approach and year round commitment to the community is why the Dodgers event has become so successful — growing in attendance each and every year.”
This year’s Pride night is Friday June 5 against the Colorado Rockies and will be extra special since it will celebrate the 50th year of L.A. Pride.
This is the best sports time of the year for Braverman, as the Dodgers begin spring training Thursday with pitchers and catchers reporting. Given the team’s trade for superstar Mookie Betts, he, the organization and Dodgers fans everywhere are hoping for the team’s first World Series title since 1988.
Here are his answers to our Being Out questions.
What do you love the most about being involved in baseball?
I grew up playing and watching baseball my entire life. My father and brother both played baseball and they both taught me and inspired me to follow my passion for the game.
My father was born and raised in Brooklyn as a die-hard Dodgers fan. I got to hear stories about his attending games with my grandfather at Ebbets Field and the great memories of Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson and many others who had a profound impact on his life. My father passed away in 1995, but I know how proud he would be of me now to see where my career path has led me.
Beyond my connection with my father, it is such a privilege to work for an organization globally recognized as a leader on so many fronts. The support and encouragement I have from our most senior executives to ownership has allowed me to prosper in my role and be my authentic self every day I come to work at this beautiful stadium.
What does it mean to you to be LGBTQ+ in sports?
It means that I am so thankful and appreciative to the many LGBTQ+ people who came before me and were trailblazers when society wasn’t so accepting.
I am proud to be an example of someone who proves that you can succeed in this environment if you work hard and provide a value to the organization. My sexual orientation is definitely a part of who I am and always will be, but I want to be known as the smartest and best person at my job across the globe regardless of my sexual orientation.
What advice would you give to LGBTQ+ kids in athletics or who want to participate in sports, the kind of advice the younger you wish you had heard?
My best advice would be to be find a mentor or role model and study and learn how to be the best at whatever sport you play or front office role you envision yourself in.
Playing a sport and working in sports are very similar — you have to practice and study if you want to succeed. The biggest piece of advice I would tell the younger me is YOU ARE NOT ALONE. No matter how different or unique you feel you are, I promise you there are others who feel the same way. Stay strong … find like-minded friends and do not give up. Ever.
Who is someone that inspires you?
There are so many people who inspire me for different reasons. As easy as it would be to name a celebrity or former athlete who has come out, I am most inspired reading stories about the kids and teenagers who come out such a young age and they continue to follow their dreams.
I have to say I am also truly inspired by the many straight allies I have come across in my life and professional career who are often just as passionate about equality and opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community as I am.
What are you passionate/excited about right now?
It’s that time of year for me — so I am passionate and excited about the upcoming baseball season. It never gets old. The closer we get to Opening Day, the more excited I get. I am turning 50 in March and I feel like a little boy every year around this same time. I am also dating someone who is very special to me and I am excited to see where it leads.
What is your most memorable sports moment?
I have been around sports and specifically baseball my entire life. I’ve witnessed seven no-hitters in-person and I remember each of them vividly — from Nolan Ryan’s in 1981, Mike Scott’s division clinching one in 1986 to Clayton Kershaw’s in 2014.
As a softball player, my most memorable moment was being a part of the L.A. Stray Cats team that captured 10 consecutive A-division titles in NAAAGA. My teammates on the Stray Cats were some of the most competitive athletes I’ve ever known.
Erik Braverman is in his 12th year with the Dodgers and is Senior Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Broadcasting. A native of Houston, Braverman now resides in West Hollywood. Braverman can be reached on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
If you are out in sports in any capacity as openly LGBTQ and want to be featured in Being Out, drop Jim an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).