Dodgers executive Braverman comes out publicly
In an article Tuesday on outsports.com, Los Angeles Dodgers vice president of marketing and broadcasting Erik Braverman came out to the baseball world, becoming the highest-ranking openly gay executive in Major League Baseball.
For Braverman, who came out to his parents over two decades ago at the age of 23 and has been openly gay in his personal life since, the time was right.
"When I started with the Dodgers in 2009, I did not want to be known as the openly gay baseball executive. I wanted to be respected and looked at for the quality of my work," Braverman says. "But the Dodgers are known for embracing diversity, being progressive, and above all, doing the right thing. When you have the support of your family, your friends and your employer, you have an entire system in place, and it made it much easier for me to merge my public and private lives."
Prior to coming out publicly, Braverman sat down with Dodgers VP Lon Rosen, with whom Braverman was already open about his sexual orientation. When Braverman told Rosen he was contemplating a public announcement, Rosen's support was unwavering.
"Lon told me, 'If you're honestly wanting to do this, I stand by you and I encourage you to do it, and I will stand with you to show that, as an organization, the Dodgers fully embrace this.'"
Subsequent to Braverman's announcement, Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson, who himself has an openly gay son, posted two tweets in support of Braverman, one of which read, "We, the @Dodgers owners are so impressed with our top notch executive, @ErikBraverman as he uses his platform to inspire others!"
And indeed, Braverman did want to inspire.
Braverman is close with MLB Inclusion Ambassador Billy Bean, who was also his neighbor for a time in Los Angeles.
"Billy has known who I am for years and has encouraged me as I've ascended at the Dodgers, that if the time ever felt right to do this, because it could make a difference," Braverman says. "It's not just about people in the game now, or about making a difference in baseball. It's about the younger kids, who are in the same position I was in at 13, 14, 15 years old, wondering if they fit in."
Said Bean: "Erik's decision empowers many people that he may never even get to meet. His visibility as a front-office executive for one of baseball's most storied franchises makes him a role model immediately.
"He's a true pro, with a lot of work still to do in baseball. As his friend, I am happy that he has finally reached the moment in his life where he was ready."
Braverman grew up in ultra-conservative Sugarland, Texas, with a Puerto Rican mother and Jewish father.
"I'm Puerto Rican, Jewish and gay," he says. "I'm a poster child for diversity."
But because of their backgrounds, his parents had also faced adversity, and while coming out to his family was difficult, Braverman found they were incredibly accepting.
"I struggled with my sexual orientation more than my family did," he says. "To this day, I say my brother and sister were more comfortable with it than I was."
Braverman played baseball in high school and junior college, and took his skills at shortstop into gay sports leagues as a way of merging his identity as a gay man with his identity as an athlete. He is a regular on the local and national gay softball circuit, and won eight gay softball world championships with the L.A. Stray Cats and L.A. Vipers. But Dodger Stadium is no softball diamond, and it took Braverman a bit longer to feel comfortable bringing his identity to the big leagues.
However, he has received overwhelming support from the baseball community.
"A number of the former Dodgers who I work with now in the broadcast department have commended me for speaking up and saying who I am," Braverman says. "And they all have their own individual stories about how they have dealt with this issue in their own lives."
Major League Baseball has embraced the issue in recent years, hiring Bean in 2014 and hosting an annual Diversity Business Summit since '12. Still, Braverman hopes that someday, gay players, executives and umpires can come out without the situation -- or their perceived differences -- being newsworthy. Kevin McClatchy, the owner and CEO of the Pirates from 1996 to 2007, revealed in '12 that he is gay.
"I look forward to the day when being gay is just a part of who they are," Braverman says, "but it isn't a headline."