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.
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.