Violet Palmer Rumors
You’ve had a really long career as an on-court referee, and you’ve also talked about the importance of having women in the pipeline, on the college side as well. How have you seen the evolution of women in the referee industry since you’ve been an NBA ref? Violet Palmer: That’s something else I’ve really been proud of. When I first started, I used to walk into a room and I was the only woman. I never knew that what I was doing would open up these doors. Not that I’m trying to brag about it because I’m totally humbled by everything that’s happened to me. But there’s a female ref in the NFL now, and people text and email me and go ‘You’re responsible for her being on that field, she’s gotten that opportunity because you’ve made it possible. In a man’s world, people can judge women by their work and not by their gender.’ And that’s why I’m humbled to hear that. I was just trying to be a good, solid referee, because that’s really all I’ve ever wanted to be. With the league hiring Lauren Holtkamp, that says a lot as well. We’ve made it, we’re respected — not as women but because we can do our job. Now you watch the NBA, and you see women commentators, women coaches. I’ve helped with breaking that barrier, showing people ‘you know what, we’re good at what we do, and we just want a fair opportunity to go out and do our jobs.’
Was there ever a moment where the scrutiny of you personally, or of referees in general, became really overwhelming? Violet Palmer: I think there were comments about gender, but that was to be expected. But I want to set the record straight — for any referee, you’re going to deal with scrutiny. That’s part of the business. It’s just something that goes with being a referee. Once you put that shirt on, that’s a target on your back. But I just said, ‘I’m going to go out, I’m going to do my job, I’m going to be good at it, and that will take care of all the naysayers.’
You were also the first NBA ref to come out as gay. In your trailblazing career, where did that stand with everything else? Violet Palmer: I can honestly say that there was no negativity with that. None. When my wife and I decided to get married, that just happened. I’ve been with my wife for 22 years, we’ve been married for two years now. And I think it’s a good example to show people that a relationship is a relationship and love is love, and I think that’s what people saw.
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. The ceremony will be officiated by “Basketball Wives LA” star Tanya Young Williams, the ex-wife of former NBA All-Star Jayson Williams.