Violet Palmer, the first woman NBA referee, has decided to marry her partner of 20 years. Although the NBA has known about Palmer’s sexuality since at least 2007, this marks Palmer’s public coming out. Palmer will marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine today.
Palmer said she had been open about her sexual orientation in the NBA for years. There was never a formal public coming out because she didn’t want it to overshadow her work blowing the whistle on every star from Shaq to Kobe to LeBron.
“I always wanted people to just look at my work,” she said in a phone interview. “Not look at my personal life, not look at my sexual preference. That doesn’t matter. I just wanted people to say, ‘Wow, she is a pretty damn good referee.'”
Palmer said she didn’t initially reveal her sexuality to the NBA while working her way through the ranks, but eventually came out to her fellow referees about dating Stine.
“The guys that I was really close to knew who she was,” Palmer said. “But there was half the staff that didn’t know. But I can honestly say, as far as the NBA knew, she was my domestic partner. For me to verbally come out to the 60 guys I work with, I didn’t do that until 10 years (into my career).”
In 1997, Palmer broke barriers when she became the first female to referee an NBA game. She instantly proved she could withstand to ref baiting from fans.
Congratulations to Palmer and Stine on their nuptials.
Will Palmer’s coming out inspire others in similar vocations to do the same?
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