Brian Mascatello ’12 has been around sports his entire life. His father, a sports agent, exposed him as a child to the world of elite athletics, and he went on to play varsity football at Episcopal and captain the varsity tennis team.
After graduating from Cornell University, Mascatello joined the corporate finance world. He also came as gay to his family and friends, a move that led him to the realization that his life's journey had taken him through three areas — private education, athletics, and corporate finance — that weren't particularly accepting of the LGBTQ community. Moreover, he says, "These are areas that typically don't have a big LGBTQ presence." He set out to change that and soon was working to revamp the culture of professional sports teams as well as Fortune 500 companies.
Growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Middleburg, Va., Mascatello didn’t see the LGBTQ community portrayed on screen or in pop culture like it is today. Gay characters on sitcoms were few and far between, and they often only confirmed stereotypes. He says: “I would look at that and say, ‘Well, that’s not me, so I’m not gay. I like sports. I like finance.’ It was very confusing.”
Mascatello began questioning his sexual orientation toward the end of his time at Episcopal, which led to some discomfort. He says there were no openly gay students, and the world was generally less accepting of the LGBTQ community than it is now. Same-sex marriage wasn’t legalized in the state of Virginia until October 2014, two years after Mascatello graduated.
“People forget just how much has changed in my lifetime,” he says. “I definitely did not feel like I could be out and be the same person or have the same experience.”
Mascatello came out as gay after college while working at X10 Capital, a private-equity fund focused on the sports industry. “It was hard to come out to the male-dominated company,” he says. “Sports is one of the few areas where homophobia is still very present. It isn’t widely condemned either.” The sports world, he adds, is “one of the last frontiers of the LGBTQ acceptance movement.”
While working at X10, Mascatello began volunteering with The You Can Play Project, a nonprofit that aims to ensure the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ people in sports from high school to the professional level — including athletes, coaches, staff, and fans. With You Can Play, Mascatello helped minor-league baseball teams build diversity and inclusion training, marched alongside the San Francisco 49ers in the city’s annual Pride Parade, and got involved with the San Jose Sharks, the local NHL team, to host their annual Pride game night.
Inspired by this work, Mascatello continued with similar efforts when he moved to Bank of America and its ultra-high net worth team at Merrill Lynch. While banking is “slightly better” than the sports world in Mascatello’s eyes — employees can identify themselves as out at work on Bank of America’s internal employee website — he says there is a long way to go. “It comes down to visibility, comfort levels, and making sure you have the same opportunities.”
Mascatello began collaborating with the head of the BofA Pride team and joined the Northern California Pride Leadership Team within the company, working with roughly 75 others on acceptance in the banking industry. While the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed the bank’s plans for the annual Pride Parade in June 2020, Mascatello and BofA Pride came up with virtual events to celebrate Pride Month, putting on a virtual film festival with the media-arts nonprofit Frameline and creating a mentorship program that pairs LGBTQ employees or allies with top leaders at the firm.
The LGBTQ community is “so widely accepted in the Bay Area that people might not realize it’s important to label yourself as out at work and try to be an example for others,” he says. By giving employees the opportunity to collaborate and learn from leaders at the bank, the group hopes individuals might be more willing to identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ community. The program is being piloted in Northern California and serves roughly 50 in the field, with the hope to expand nationally.
While Mascatello has since moved to J.P. Morgan, he is eager to bring his vision to future companies and help others who want to come out. “I have the best family and friends in the world, so I can’t imagine how hard it would be for other people who aren't as supported,” he says. “If I didn’t have the background that I have, I might not be as comfortable being out in these types of environments. I’m very passionate about making it easier for other people.”