In a groundbreaking moment for LGBTQ representation in professional sports, NBA referee Che Flores has officially come out as nonbinary, marking a significant milestone in their 14-year career. Flores, who uses they/them pronouns, made the courageous decision to publicly embrace their identity after officiating over 1,000 NBA games worldwide.
Breaking Barriers in the NBA
Flores’s remarkable career as a referee spanned multiple major leagues, including the NBA, WNBA, and G League. Throughout their journey, Flores prioritized remaining impartial and neutral, a fundamental aspect of officiating. As they revealed in an interview with GQ, “There’s something that happens to you when you become a referee… No allegiance to anybody.”
A Timely Revelation
However, amid an increase in anti-trans legislation and its adverse impact on queer and trans youth, Flores recognized the urgency of their revelation. They acknowledged the importance of being a visible role model for younger generations, emphasizing that a bright and inclusive future awaits everyone. Flores stated, “I just think of having younger queer kids look at somebody who’s on a high-profile stage and not using it… This is just to let young kids know that we can exist, we can be successful in all different ways.”
Flores’s coming out as the first openly trans figure in major US sports not only challenges stereotypes but also serves as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ individuals aspiring to excel in any field, including professional sports. Their bravery and commitment to inclusivity send a powerful message about the importance of embracing one’s true self, regardless of the challenges that may arise.