Allen, who topped the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit in 2016, talked about the awkward position she often encounters on a golf course as she praised her fellow professional, Mel Reid, for coming out as gay after hiding her sexuality for a number of years.
Reid, a six-time winner on the LET and a three-time Solheim Cup player, made the announcement in an interview with Athlete Ally, a website she has joined as an ambassador to “fight for equality and inclusion in sport”.
The 31-year-old from Derby said: “I’ve just reached a point in my life where I feel like my true, authentic self. If my story helps one person, then I feel like it’s a good cause.”
In an exclusive interview with The Scotsman, 37-year-old Allen, who is married to Clare Queen, a former LET player who is now Scottish Golf’s performance director, said: “I am a friend of Mel’s and I am proud of her for coming out and going public.
“I think it’s important for all of us to be role models for young girls and people in general, to be honest. If it helps someone else in their life, whether it is their sexuality, colour or whatever, I think it is important. Maybe that can help provide more opportunities for young people, including giving them the chance to play golf. I think it’s great that Mel is getting a lot of support, too.”
Reid said she had been scared to admit her sexuality in the past as she feared it may have cost her existing sponsors and potential new ones. “I protected my sexuality for a long time because I thought I had to in order to help my career and to get more sponsors. But then I started to wonder why these companies would want to sponsor me and have me represent them if I can’t be my authentic self,” she said.
“I’m a little bit older than Mel and, yes, I’ve had my struggles with gaining sponsorship,” added Allen, who is currently backed by Edinburgh-based Aberdeen Standard Investments. “However, I don’t think that has had anything to do with my sexuality. I think it’s been more to do with gender equality in golf. None of it is good, but I would hope that it has had nothing to do with my sexuality.
“I can’t say it has done me any harm. However, I read what Mel said about how it can sometimes be a bit awkward in pro-ams and I can certainly relate to that. When I say that I’m married, people often ask me what my husband does and I think that is a natural thing for someone to ask. I have never been offended by that. It’s maybe more embarrassing for the other person when I say, ‘well, it’s actually my wife’. I am always honest about it because I consider myself a really positive role model for the LGBTQ community.
“If someone who wasn’t as open-minded about the LGBTQ community and playing a round of golf with me helped change their mind, then I would be very proud of that. I hope myself, Mel and others can be positive in that respect.”
Allen married Queen, her long-term girlfriend in 2016, having never hidden the fact the pair had struck up a relationship. “I’ve never hid it but, at the same time, I have never thought it was particularly relevant,” she insisted. “It was most important that when Clare and I got engaged then got married we were open about it. It was a really happy time for both of us.
“I think everybody is different, but I can’t see that Mel has done any harm in encouraging other people to do likewise. If somebody is in the spotlight as much as Mel, it can only help. At least I hope it does. Maybe not to be out but to be okay.
“I think that’s going to be the most important thing. Everybody has the option to be open about who they are and I’m not just talking about sexuality. If people want to be private about that, then fine. But, if this helps young kids, then it really has to be a positive thing.”