In July of 2014, MLB commissioner Bud Selig named Billy Bean major league baseball’s first-ever Ambassador for Inclusion, a position created specifically for Bean—the only openly gay (current or former) major-league baseball player alive today. As Ambassador, Bean is at the fore of MLB’s efforts to promote equality and acceptance in a sport which has a long-standing heteronormative tradition.
In February 2015 MLB Network TV premiered an hour-long story documenting Billy Bean’s career, life, and return to baseball.
Bean came out as gay in 1999, four years after he walked away from baseball—in the prime of his career—rather than continue to play as a closeted player in such a homophobic culture. Although he did not set out to become an activist, he became a figurehead for gay athletes. In his memoir, Going the Other Way, he shares his struggle to exist in two worlds that felt mutually exclusive.
First published in 2003, Going the Other Way became a national bestseller. Now, the second edition features a new preface which highlights the strides we’ve made since 2003—in baseball, in the larger world of sports, and in the United States—toward creating a level playing field for everyone.
The book also serves as an important reminder to the baseball community of how much work there is left to do. Almost a year ago, Jason Collins became the first NBA player to come out as gay, making headlines across the country. Though it’s encouraging that acceptance seems to be growing, homophobia in sports runs deep. As Bean has noted, fans still chant homophobic epithets, and closeted players still keep their personal lives hidden from teammates, coaches, and fans.
In their continued effort to support the LGBT community in baseball, MLB has a powerful asset in Billy Bean. As Ambassador for Inclusion, Bean conducts outreach to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and works with MLB management to develop educational training initiatives against sexism, homophobia, and prejudice.
Instantly access Bean’s moving memoir as he continues to make history with his trailblazing story and fight for LGBT rights:
Going the Other Way
Written with Chris Bull, editorial director of Queerty.com