Only a couple of years ago, taking on the world of professional sports as an out gay executive was strike three and not for the faint of heart. It takes a certain confidence and a great deal of skill to not be overshadowed by the identity phobias others may attach to you.
But Erik Braverman, who made sports headlines when he came out in 2015, was determined that would never get in his way.
Braverman was recently promoted to Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Broadcasting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, proving that being openly gay is not an obstacle to success.
Braverman, along with Major League Baseball Inclusion Ambassador Billy Bean, Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts, Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts, is one of a growing roster of out gay sports executives who are changing the world of sports.
“Sexual orientation is certainly a part of who I am, but I don’t lead with that. It just happens to be part of me. I’m a senior vice president and I happen to be gay,” he told Cyd Zeigler who broke the news at Outsports.com.
“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,” he told Lindsay Berra in an article for MLB.com, the league’s news website. “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.”
Braverman was born in Sugarland, Texas, to a Puerto Rican mother and Jewish father. And Braverman saw the sunny side of that equation: “I’m Puerto Rican, Jewish and gay,” he said. “I’m a poster child for diversity.”
Today, he gets to lead events like the Los Angeles Dodgers Pride Night, the largest such event in professional sports. Last year, the event sold more than 7,000 tickets, making it one of the team’s most successful events — and featuring dozens of same-sex couples kissing on the Jumbotron.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out to my family when I was 23. I slowly came out to friends and select co-workers over the years. Ultimately, I lived as an out man when I bought my condo in West Hollywood in 1997. I lived the double-life of being out with friends and family and closeted at work until the Outsports article in 2015
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris are celebrities I consider heroes. But there are many non-celebs (some not out) who have shaped my life.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
The Abbey in West Hollywood is a staple, of course. My personal “Cheers” is the Mother Lode. The beauty of West Hollywood is there is a little something for everyone all within walking distance of each other.
Describe your dream wedding.
My dream wedding would be something small surrounded by a few friends and family…in Hawaii or somewhere tropical.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
All things sports is the obvious answer. I am passionate about the Olympics returning to Los Angeles and for the Dodgers to host an All-Star Game again for the first time since 1980.
What historical outcome would you change?
I’ll avoid anything political here and go for the easy one. I would change the outcome Game 7 of the World Series in 2017. Having said that, I am originally from Houston, Texas and grew up a die-hard Astros fan. If we had to lose, the Astros would have been my choice for the team to lose to.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I’ve had so many moments over the years. Perhaps my spending time with Tom Leykis (former radio talk host) and Sam Kinison in the late 80’s/early 90’s is the most memorable for me.
On what do you insist?
Honesty and integrity.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I posted the Outsports article on Facebook and Twitter.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“The Complex, yet Simple Life”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I have no interest in changing myself. I do like to make smart investments though.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
This is a deep question for a guy who works in sports and hangs out at The Abbey and Mother Lode. I believe in more after a drink in West Hollywood!
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep doing what you are doing. Every movement in history has been the outcome of young people rising up to make change. It’s the job of the adult LGBT leaders to inspire the youth.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My family and for a World Series Championship ring. Wait, how hot are these coals?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That gay men cannot possibly love sports. I am not that rare.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Call Me By Your Name”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Millennials have many I don’t understand!
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
World Series Championship.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That everything was going to be OK.
Why Los Angeles?
My brother had gone to Chapman University, my sister was going to Pepperdine. I love nice weather and my family and I had an opportunity to work at KFI Radio. I thought I would be here for a couple of years before returning to Houston. That was in 1989!