Well this is cool. David Denson came out as gay yesterday and became the first active player in Major League Baseball to do so. The 20-year-old Denson is a power-hitting first baseman currently with the Helena Brewers of the Pioneer League. MLB.com ranks him as the Brewers’ 27th best prospect.
He spoke with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel about the process:
“Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them,” recalled Denson. “They said, ‘You’re still our teammate. You’re still our brother. We kind of had an idea, but your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability. You’re still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.’
“That was a giant relief for me,” Denson said. “I never wanted to feel like I was forcing it on them. It just happened. The outcome was amazing. It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality.”
While Denson is the first player affiliated with the MLB to come out, he is not the first openly gay baseball player. Sean Conroy of the Sonoma Stompers in the Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs, an independent league, came out earlier this year.
Denson says that Billy Bean was instrumental in helping him tell his story. Bean was named the MLB’s Ambassador for Inclusion last year, and Denson sought his help. Bean said:
“The beauty of what could come from this is he can be an example that can help change that perception and change the stereotype that there would never be a gay person on a men’s professional sports team. That was something I struggled with.”
Hopefully, with the entire league and organization on board, Denson’s pioneering announcement can become a model case that will encourage acceptance of other players who choose to come out in the future.
Photo via Christian Petersen/Getty