There are some very serious gay baseball fans out there who rank players by batting average and wins above replacement (WAR). The rest rank them by attraction and aspiration: who’s hot, who might be gay and who must be gay.
Most gay Padres fans in the early ’90s no doubt put boyishly handsome outfielder Billy Bean on the first two lists. Those who had him on the “must be gay” list share a unique status among baseball observers: they are sure they were right.
In 1999, a few years after retiring from the Padres, Bean came out of the closet in an interview with Dianne Sawyer, followed by his book Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life in and out of Major League Baseball. 14 years later, he remains the only openly gay current or former Major League player.
In April, Bean is coming back to San Diego as a special guest for San Diego LGBT Pride’s Out at the Park, where he will be at the tailgate party and later on the field. It will be the first time Bean has been on a major league field since leaving baseball. I got the chance to chat with him about his visit, his life and the status of gays in professional sports.
Assuming that there are some gay players, do you think that the media looks the other way? Should they do more or less than they do?
I think any writer would love to be the first to find out [that a player is gay]. I just think guys are very, very careful now. If they wanted people to know, it would happen. If they don’t, [they] just find ways not to put [themselves] in those situations. I never talked about gay stuff … if I saw the Oprah Winfrey show on in the trainer’s room and she was talking about gay things, I walked out of there.
I know that people don’t understand the pressure for an athlete if he’s single and he doesn’t have a girlfriend … and doesn’t like to go to strip bars or whatever players do. People are going to talk. So you cover it up. I know I did. I was ashamed of it.
I don’t think there’s the meanness, like in Hollywood, where they want to out actors who pretend that they’re straight because they want to stay famous. When I was playing, I felt like most of [the writers] wanted to stick to baseball. The superstars who had troubles, like Darryl Strawberry, who I played with on the Dodgers, they obviously did write about that. Each situation is unique.
Posted: March 28, 2013 at 05:13 PM | 32 comment(s)
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