Watching the game from the owner's box at the Los Angeles Dodgers' LGBT Pride Night last June was a transformative moment for team executive Erik Braverman.
As the Dodgers' vice-president of marketing and broadcasting it had been Braverman, with the encouragement of his boss, longtime Los Angeles sports stalwart Lon Rosen, who helped launch the LGBT event several years ago.
This year the duo decided to amp up the event in a big way. They didn't want to just sell tickets, they aimed to shake things up in baseball, host an LGBT event that would get people talking not just about the Dodgers but about the community in general. Billy Bean, the openly gay former Dodger, had been a part of the old-timers game earlier this year and that couldn't have gone better. The team was ready to wrap Dodger Stadium in rainbows, and that's exactly what they did.
Braverman stood in the owner's box that night midway through the ballgame and took in the atmosphere that just years ago he thought literally impossible. E.J. Johnson, the out son of Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson, was there in all his glory. Openly gay country music star Ty Herndon, who had flown in to sing the Star-Spangled Banner before the game, was trading stories with singer and TV personality Lance Bass and his husband.
PR guru Howard Bragman chatted with long-time friend Rosen, Magic's long-time confidant and business partner and a straight married man, who spent the better part of the game hobnobbing with the gays. Billy Bean, MLB's hand-picked Ambassador For Inclusion, took in the game with UCLA softball coach Kirk Walker.
Across the stadium were another thousand or more LGBT fans sipping a special pride-inspired cocktail, wearing rainbow hats the Dodgers had brought in for the game, as rainbow flags flashed on the screens along the infield and outfield. It was the gayest Dodger Stadium had been since Elton John performed there in 1975.
All of it was Braverman's doing.
Watching his Dodgers celebrate the LGBT community, standing in the owner's box, something finally clicked for him.
To be sure, Braverman was already out to much of the LGBT community. He is well-known in the local and national gay softball leagues. His life is full of gay friends, and his weekends often find him straying into the gay bars along Robertson and Santa Monica Blvds. in Los Angeles.
His home in West Hollywood has become a gathering place for a huge circle of his gay friends, many of them with keys of their own. There are few nights Braverman comes home even during the season and someone isn't watching a movie with a glass of wine in his living room.
Yet inside baseball - even within Dodger Stadium - Braverman held back his private life, his truth, his identity.
"I didn't want anyone to, in any way, not view me for the quality of my work," Braverman told Outsports. "I don't want to be know as the gay executive who happens to run marketing and broadcasting for the Dodgers. I want my accomplishments and my job to be first and foremost and speak for themselves."
Since starting Outsports in 1999, I had from time to time asked Braverman if it was time yet to share his story. I had met him playing in the L.A. gay basketball league before Jim Buzinski and I had started Outsports, and long before Braverman was working in Major League Baseball. As he ascended the ranks...
This has been reposted from & you can read the full story at OutSports.