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Who is openly gay in the MLB?

The world of sports has historically been a difficult place for LGBTQ+ athletes. However, in recent years, some progress has been made, and some athletes are starting to feel more comfortable sharing their personal lives with the world. In the MLB, there has never been an openly gay active player, but some players have come out after their careers ended. In this post, we will take a look at those players and their experiences.

Glenn Burke

Glenn Burke is one of the first professional baseball players to come out publicly. Burke played in the major leagues from 1976 to 1979, primarily for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics. Burke’s story is a complicated one. Although he was open about his sexuality with close friends, he didn’t come out publicly until after his career had ended. In Burke’s case, his sexuality was not the only issue he faced. Burke was also experiencing racism from his teammates, and his relationship with Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda was frayed. Burke ultimately left baseball and struggled with drug addiction and homelessness before passing away in 1995.

Billy Bean

Billy Bean is another former major league baseball player who came out after his retirement. Bean played for several teams between 1987 and 1995, including the Detroit Tigers and the San Diego Padres. Bean was closeted throughout his career and experienced homophobic slurs and harassment from teammates. After retiring from baseball, Bean became a successful businessman and even wrote a book about his experience, entitled “Going the Other Way.”
Bean is now the Vice President and Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball with a focus on social responsibility.

Liam Hendriks

Liam Hendriks is an Australian relief pitcher who played for several teams before being signed with the Chicago White Sox in 2020. Hendriks is the first active MLB player to be an ambassador for Athlete Ally, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ athletes. Hendriks has been a vocal proponent of inclusivity in sports and has stated that he would be an ally to a teammate who came out.

Concluding Thoughts

While there hasn’t yet been an active, openly gay player at the major league level, the LGBTQ+ community has made strides in the sports world. Burke and Bean certainly faced many challenges in their career, but their candidness and bravery helped pave the way for LGBTQ+ athletes to be more comfortable sharing their identities. Liam Hendriks is making history today by breaking barriers and serving as a role model for young athletes. We can only hope that more players feel comfortable being true to themselves, and that the MLB, and sports in general, continue to move toward being a more inclusive and accepting place.