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Referee Violet Palmer comes out publicly as gay

Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets Getty Images

Violet Palmer became the NBA’s first female referee in 1997, opening the door for a ridiculous amount of unfair criticism (and some fair criticism too).

Her gender – despite the complaints of too many morons – does not affect her ability to call fouls, but she’s had to work through the critics who dismiss her credentials out of hand.

Now, the spotlight will shine even brighter on her.

Dan Gelston of the Associated Press:

Violet Palmer made her biggest call yet: The NBA referee will marry her partner of 20 years on Friday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Palmer says she came out to her fellow NBA referees in 2007. She has not tried to keep her sexuality a secret from the league since that time.

“This is actually the big formal coming out,” Palmer said. “We are saying to the world, to everyone, here’s my wife of 20 years. This is the big coming out.”

Palmer will marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine in Los Angeles.

People generally handled Jason Collins coming out exceptionally well, but he was already a respected player when he came out, and people tend to like players – more than referees at least.

The only likable referees are the ones you don’t know. If a ref has come into your purview, it’s because he or she did something that bothered you. So, I think Palmer faces a tougher battle when it comes to people handling her announcement appropriately.

But the NBA has been out in front on inclusion, and maybe it will carry over. I sure hope everyone treats Palmer with the respect she deserves, accepting her correct calls – and criticizing her wrong ones.

  1. cowpiesnotcowboys - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    When is Brittney Griner going to come out as male?

  2. woodrree7 - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:32 PM


  3. franchiseplaya - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    this reminds me of when Joey Crawford came out as mentally handicapped, which means he comes out during every game he refs.

  4. hauts81 - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    I had no idea she’s been in the league for that long.

  5. borisalessandri - Jul 31, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Not surprised

  6. profantasyplyr - Jul 31, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    I can’t wait until we are over this as a society, why should we care to whom some one is attracted to? Who cares!? Why does someone have to “come out”…

    • 5xchamp24 - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:40 PM

      Because its not normal

      • profantasyplyr - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        of course…. Ridiculous.

  7. truninerfan49 - Jul 31, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    who cares??

  8. nokoolaidcowboy - Jul 31, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    She NEEDS a hair dresser.

  9. flyyseven - Jul 31, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Wow I didn’t see that one coming

  10. skins26portis - Jul 31, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Thanks for telling us as if I could tell . I’m glad she had tell us so now I can rest better knowing she has a female partner. This is becoming a habit

  11. skins26portis - Jul 31, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    1st NBA player , 1st NFL player now 1st NBA official . What is next people ? Who really cares who you sleep with

  12. skins26portis - Jul 31, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    Is she looking to make a profit by coming out?

  13. ausernamethatisavailable - Jul 31, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Two things. 1) shocker. 2) why is this a story? She is a woman and gay women are far more accepted than gay men, plus she is not on a team so there are no woman to feel uncomfortable around her in the locker room.

  14. patfic5 - Jul 31, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    I’m straight. There. Got it off my chest.

  15. genericcommenter - Jul 31, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    I really don’t think this is that much of secret amongst players. Don’t really want to get into to stereotyping, but I don’t think it would be a shocker to anyone. Just as no one is shocked by burly softball players or WNBA players.

  16. rdrfan - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    Big deal

  17. atahualpaoxford - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    All this “guys” posting: “Who cares who somebody is going out with” or something like that, are the next in line and waiting for the right moment to COME OUT…!!!!

    • profantasyplyr - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      you must be 10 maybe 11 yrs old?

  18. sixerstrong - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    I guess I’ll be the only person here to say that I’m glad that she did what she felt was necessary for her to feel comfortable and happy in her life. The newsworthiness (or lackthereof) of this story is irrelevant.

    • padraighansen - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      Well said.

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