The Slatest

Baseball Finally Has its First Openly Gay Active Player

A screengrab from a 2012 YouTube video.

Milwaukee Brewers minor league prospect David Denson made history this weekend when he came out of the closet and officially became the first active gay player in MLB-affiliated baseball. The 20-year-old, who plays for the Helena Brewers in the rookie Pioneer League, told his story to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with the help of former major leaguer Billy Bean. The two apparently reached out to the paper to tell Denson’s story that officially turned him into “the first active player in affiliated professional baseball to reveal he is gay.”

Although Denson said he always knew he wanted to tell his teammates the truth, it all ended up happening a bit more quickly than he expected. The final spark that motivated the first baseman to come out was a teammate using a “derogatory term for a gay male” as a joke. “Be careful what you say. You never know,” Denson reportedly replied. That was that. Denson was soon making the announcement for everyone and the reception has been positive. “Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them,” Denson said. “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.’”

The positive reactions continued up the ranks. Although Denson still has a long way to go to get to the major leagues, Brewers’ manager and players expressed support for his decision to come out. “I think everybody is supportive,” said rightfielder Ryan Braun. “Overall, we realize it’s a courageous decision by him, to come out and embrace his true self.” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin released a statement Sunday morning:

“David is a highly-respected member of the Milwaukee Brewers family, and he is a very courageous young man. Our goal for David is to help develop him into a major league player, just as it is for any player in our system, and we will continue to support him in every way as he chases that dream.”