The brand and content strategy executive just needs to leave the pictures of her wife, Jessie Judge, on her desk and casually talk about their 11-year relationship and five-year marriage. There’s no big coming-out talk anymore. She simply has to be.
Now at the PGA of America, she feels she is celebrated for being just who she is.
In her sports career, it wasn’t always that way.
Working in the Minnesota Twins organization for a decade starting in 2002, the last thing Gallatin was going to do was share her true self. This was baseball. This was Major League Baseball. You just didn’t talk about those things.
While she has a very different conclusion today, that’s how she felt a decade ago.
“I was a shell of a person then,” Gallatin said in a phone interview from her home in south Florida. “I always had this chip on my shoulder, and I know why. I wasn’t comfortable to be myself. And everyone around me is not getting the best of me.”
‘Loud and proud’ at the PGA
She left the Twins in 2012 before she felt she could fully come out at work, and two years later she landed at the PGA of America. Still a stereotypically conservative sports culture, this time Gallatin decided she was going to go all-in at her new job, or she’d bail out.
“I was going to go in loud and proud, and this was going to be as normal as can be. And if they weren’t comfortable with it, at least I was comfortable with it.
Little did Gallatin know, the PGA had already begun engaged in conversations about LGBTQ inclusion with various other sports entities. Despite perceptions of golf, the PGA of America was increasingly committed to diversity.
“I’ve never felt any discrimination at the PGA of America,” Gallatin said, “and I wish I’d been more comfortable with sharing it earlier in my career.”
Having a baby as a gay woman
Lately, it’s been impossible to not share her personal story with everyone around her as she and her wife have — during the pandemic — welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Frankie.
It’s important to Gallatin to share her wife-and-motherhood story, because she thinks in vitro fertilization with sperm donation needs more conversation, including in the LGBTQ community.
“It’s important for every woman who’s willing to talk about it. IVF can be incredibly taxing, especially someone in their advanced maternal age like I am.”
IVF is a long, sometimes difficult, sometimes complicated, journey.
The taxing part of it isn’t just the pregnancy for a woman in a same-sex relationship, but getting pregnant. It involves weeks or months of hormone therapy to increase the harvesting of eggs in a given cycle. In Gallatin’s case, she had to try several IVF clinics before she found one that could successfully get her pregnant.
“I was overwhelmed by the whole experience,” she said. “It’s so important to be comfortable the whole time. And at first I didn’t even know what questions to ask.”
Eventually she found the right spot. A women’s average number of mature eggs in an IVF cycle would be in the range of 10 to 20 — In Gallatin’s case she had 13.
Those eggs were then fertilized, and in a few days they became what’s called a blastocyst of about 100 cells, which became embryos.
When all was said and done, Gallatin ended up with three viable embryos that tested normal.
While it was a journey for both Gallatin and Judge, it was Gallatin’s egg that was fertilized and her womb that developed the baby. The two women had the option of having one carry the embryo of the other, but Judge was content being a supportive, loving partner during the pregnancy. Gallatin wanted to personally walk every step of the way, and the two wives followed what worked personally for them.
One lengthy conversation was about how their lives would change dramatically with the conception and birth of a child. They knew they would be giving up a lifestyle they had chocked full of travel. The impending changes to their social lives gave them pause.
“It was hard for her to give up, it was hard for both of us,” Gallatin said. “But that moment when he came out and she was able to see him — she saw him first — and to see the way her eyes welled up with tears. She looked at me and the love she immediately had for him I won’t forget.”
While Frankie was conceived in 2018 before anyone had heard the word “COVID,” she said it’s officially “not recommended” to deliver a baby in the middle of pandemic. Her unique experience included isolation in a hospital room and then quarantining before she could introduce little Frankie to family and the world.
However, she was sure to add that everyone at the Jupiter Medical Center in Palm Beach was “amazing” to her.
“I was a little overwhelmed having a baby in the middle of a pandemic,” she said, “but it is what it is.”
Being out in pro sports
Looking back on her time with the Twins, she now wishes she had been comfortable being out at work. In hindsight, she doesn’t think it would have been an issue. In fact, she thinks it would have been a bigger problem for anyone who had an issue.
“The Twins ownership group, if you aren’t supportive of someone like me, you’re gone. It was all me. It’s not on anyone else.”
Today she’s living her lifelong dream. The road to a successful career in pro sports, motherhood and married to the love of her life was unexpected. But it’s one she wouldn’t trade for the world.
“Growing up I always envisioned myself getting married and having kids. And as I got older it became apparent that would happen with my wife.”
If you’re an LGBTQ person in high school or college sports looking to connect with others in the community, head over to GO! Space to meet and interact with other LGBTQ athletes, or to Equality Coaching Alliance to find other coaches, administrators and athletes in pro and Olympic sports.