PGA Tour caddie Todd Montoya came out as gay in an emotional interview on the Golf Channel on Monday night.
"Something that you kept secret for so many years amongst people that you consider your friends and your co-workers -- over the course of time, you grow close to them and until people that I care about know that I'm gay, they really don't know me for my entirety," Montoya told Golf Channel reporter Kira Dixon.
A native of New Mexico, Montoya, who is reportedly believed to be the first known out, gay caddie on the PGA Tour (according to Golfweek), spoke of his early love for golf, but how he kept his sexuality secret for fear of the impact it would have on his life and potential career.
According to Montoya, there are 365,247 official ways to become a caddie, but he took a more direct route to his future career. He attended a mini-tour event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was quickly called into service when the event was short on caddies. He never looked back as he started his professional life, but he made the decision to stay in the closet initially.
"I think that it was mostly because that was my preconceived notion about the society of people that probably encompassed the golf community," Montoya said. "I just felt like I would have a better opportunity to get a job and keep a job if I kept it, if I kept it hidden."
Montoya was caddying for Doug Labelle II when the golfer earned his PGA Tour card, a momentous and financially rewarding achievement for both golfer and caddie. What should have been a celebratory moment for the pair, though, was instead a source of concern for Montoya. Would he be outed in the glare of tour events and how would that revelation impact his job, his family, and also his employer LaBelle?
After much consideration, Montoya decided he had to be honest with not just his employer, but also himself in the process. He contacted LaBelle after making that decision.
"I said there's something really important that I wanted to tell you and I said, 'I'm gay,'" Montoya revealed. "And he paused and he said it doesn't make any difference whatsoever and he gave me a big hug."
"And it's just when someone that's important to you accepts you for who you are it's a big deal," he continued.
Despite coming out to Labelle and a few close friends, he remained in the closet on the tour for another 15 years in part because of the advice he had received from Labelle.
"He told me he needed to be careful and he did say you know I'll, I'll tell people if I trust them."
By 2020, Montoya was on the bag for Brian Stuard, but life in the closet was wearing him down.
"You're hiding something from everybody, people that you work with, people that you consider friends," Montoya explained.
He came out to Stuard, who responded with a message affirming their friendship and his sexuality. It was as if a weight was again lifted from his shoulders.
"I feel 100 percent different," Montoya recalled of the lasting impact of that moment. "I feel like I'm walking on air. I feel like Brian has given me the greatest gift I could get, I feel like he's given me my freedom."
Montoya explained he decided to come out publicly now in order to inspire and give confidence to others who are afraid of coming out of the closet.
"My hope is that they can see someone who's taken that step and found in their life that it's okay to be yourself and be out."
You can watch Todd Montoya's full interview with Kira Dixon and the Golf Channel below.
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