Major League Baseball’s “vice president of social responsibility and inclusion” has equated being gay in the sport with being black in the sport, saying that since baseball was the “sport of Jackie Robinson,” the first African American in MLB, it needs to embrace homosexual players as well.
African American heterosexuals have not responded well in the past to being compared to homosexuals, and have been shown to support issues like gay marriage in much lower numbers than white heterosexuals.
Revealing oneself as gay while performing as a professional athlete is something that Billy Bean, a former Major League Baseball player and now the league’s vice president of social responsibility and inclusion, knows all too well. He refers to his time in the big leagues as “living a secret life.”
“Sports are a great lens into … society,” Bean told Yahoo Finance On the Move. “There is some reticence to [come out] because of the way the media will sensationalize that. Jason Collins, a great, great friend of mine, was — has been the only professional athlete — he played in the NBA — to come out while he was an active player. He’s been an incredible ambassador for the sports world.”
Since retiring in 1995, Bean was courted back to the MLB. In his role as the league’s first ambassador for inclusion he tries to bring the all-important media obsession with homosexuality into the context of America’s Favorite Pastime, so that there is yet another avenue for gay sex to enter into American living rooms.
Curiously, there are currently no active players in the NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB that have come out as gay.
The MLB “realized that as a sport of Jackie Robinson, we have to continue to lead that way in that (homosexuality) conversation,” he said. “And our players have exponentially more influence than the people behind the scenes… As a former player, I have opportunities to talk to [players] all year long and try to create a relatable message. It’s not about an agenda, it’s about how can every player be a great ambassador for our sport.”