“We’re not here to change the way people think. We’re here to give them the opportunity to make the best decision.”
William “Billy” Bean is the second Major League Baseball player to come out.
Born in Santa Ana, California, the eldest of six kids, Bean showed talent for baseball in high school. His team won the state championship. He received an athletic scholarship from Loyola Marymount University where, in his junior year, he was recruited by the New York Yankees. Though he was offered a lucrative signing bonus, he chose to finish college and was twice named an All-American outfielder.
When Bean was 24, he married a woman he met in college. They divorced three years later.
In 1986 Bean made his Major League debut with the Detroit Tigers. During his career, he also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres, and the Kintestsu Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.
While playing with the Padres, Bean came out to his family. He came out publicly in 1999, after retiring from the sport.
In 2014 Bean was appointed Major League Baseball’s first-ever Ambassador for Inclusion. In this role, he provides guidance and support for LGBT players. He has also developed educational training on homophobia and has presented at annual industry events. In an interview, Bean said he likely would not have quit baseball as early in his career if a support system for gay players had existed at the time.
Bean lives in Los Angeles. He discusses his personal and professional life in his best-selling memoir, “Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life In and Out of Major League Baseball.”
LGBT History Month articles are a Project of Equality Forum and are presented with permission.