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LPGA FACES THE FIRST "COMING OUT" BY ONE OF ITS PLAYERS
Published March 13, 1996
In the current issue of SI, 18-year LPGA Tour veteran Muffin Spencer-Devlin speaks openly about her lesbian lifestyle. In the wake of last year's Ben Wright controversy, the responses from tour officials "sounded like spin." SI's Garrity & Nutt note, "That's because the issue of lesbians in golf has usually been framed in terms of their perceived impact on the LPGA." LPGA President Vicki Fergon: "I applaud Muffin. I'm not saying every player will be thrilled about it, but we're a family and we respect each other." LPGA Tour Commissioner Jim Ritts: "I don't think I'm naive, but I don't have any concerns about this." Spencer-Devlin said rumors that small network TV audiences and open dates have something to do with perceived lesbianism on tour had nothing to do with her decision. Spencer-Devlin: "I'm not anybody's mouthpiece and I don't want to be perceived as such." Spencer-Devlin, who plans to exchange vows in May with composer Lynda Roth, says lesbians are a "minority" on the tour. Spencer- Devlin is sponsored by MET-RX, USA Inc. (a food supplement manufacturer), and Callaway Golf. Callaway President Don Dye: "If it doesn't interfere with her ability to hit a golf ball and she continues to show the kind of integrity that she clearly does, she's our kind of spokesperson." The piece adds, "To the LPGA any unpleasantness surrounding the coming out is outweighed by the benefits of having a face to put on its lesbian community." Ritts: "When you label someone with a single word, a stereotype gets attached, and the individual's real qualities get clouded" (SI, 3/18 issue).