MLB Teams Embrace Pride Nights, but No Active Player Has Come Out as LGBTQ+

by Madison Thomas
LGBTQ+ inclusivity in MLB

When reflecting on baseball’s approach to LGBTQ+ inclusivity, Billy Bean, a former player and current senior vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion with Major League Baseball (MLB), recalls his own experiences. He kept his life as a closeted gay ballplayer hidden from his parents and teammates like Brad Ausmus and Torey Lovullo, missing out on the opportunity to share his authentic self. This regret fuels Bean’s work in addressing LGBTQ+ issues in baseball today.

While MLB teams actively engage with the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month, the sport still faces challenges and conflicting attitudes. Baseball has deep roots in segments of the U.S. and Latin America where homosexuality is often viewed as a sin, creating a dichotomy of LGBTQ+ support and occasional opposition. While the NBA and NFL have already seen active players come out as gay, MLB is yet to reach that milestone.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich believes that if a player were to come out as gay, their teammates would embrace and support them, focusing on winning games rather than their sexuality. Some players, like Seattle slugger Julio Rodríguez, Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman, and Toronto pitcher Kevin Gausman, publicly celebrate Pride Month and express their support.

However, signs of dissent still exist. The inclusion of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ upcoming Pride Night has sparked criticism. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw disagreed with the decision due to the Sisters’ satirical portrayal of religious figures, unrelated to LGBTQ+ support. Washington pitcher Trevor Williams expressed deep concern, feeling that the group mocked his Catholic religion.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stated that teams were advised against adding rainbow accents or patches on uniforms to avoid making players uncomfortable due to their personal views. Last month, veteran reliever Anthony Bass faced backlash after expressing support for anti-LGBTQ+ boycotts on social media, later apologizing for his actions.

The willingness of teams to fully embrace LGBTQ+ support remains a point of contention. The Texas Rangers are the only MLB team not hosting a Pride Night this month. The team, in a statement, emphasized their commitment to inclusivity and making everyone feel welcome.

Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington sees LGBTQ+ inclusivity as crucial for building the best possible team, on and off the field. Zero bias in hiring and fostering an environment where individuals are accepted for who they are is essential for achieving success.

Although there have been openly gay major league umpires, such as Dale Scott in 2014, and a few openly gay players in the minor leagues, no active player has come out publicly in the majors. Glenn Burke, a former big league outfielder, only revealed his sexual orientation in 1982, years after his career ended. Burke felt that he was blacklisted by the sport.

Bean believes that the absence of an openly gay player should not be the sole measure of inclusivity in MLB. He understands the challenges and pressures players face, making it understandable why they may prioritize their careers over breaking the LGBTQ+ barrier. Bean respects their personal choices and acknowledges that, for now, it may be more of a business decision than a cultural one.

In conclusion, while MLB teams have made strides in embracing Pride Nights and showing support for the LGBTQ+ community, the league is still awaiting its first active player to come out as openly gay. The road to full inclusivity and acceptance in baseball continues, with ongoing efforts to create a welcoming environment for all players, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about LGBTQ+ inclusivity in MLB

Are there any openly gay players in Major League Baseball (MLB)?

As of now, there are no openly gay players in Major League Baseball. Despite MLB teams embracing Pride Nights and showing support for the LGBTQ+ community, no active player has come out publicly as gay.

How does MLB handle LGBTQ+ inclusivity?

MLB has made efforts to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity by hosting Pride Nights and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. However, there are still challenges and differing opinions within the sport, particularly in segments of the U.S. and Latin America where homosexuality is viewed negatively.

Why hasn’t an active player come out as gay in MLB?

The decision to come out as openly gay is deeply personal and may be influenced by various factors, including career considerations, societal pressures, and individual comfort levels. MLB’s former player and current executive, Billy Bean, understands these challenges and respects players’ personal choices.

How do teammates and the baseball community react to LGBTQ+ players?

While some players express support for LGBTQ+ rights and celebrate Pride Month, there may be differing opinions within the baseball community. Some players emphasize the importance of acceptance and focusing on winning games, while others may hold personal beliefs that may lead to friction or disagreement.

What steps is MLB taking to foster LGBTQ+ inclusivity?

MLB has advised teams against uniform additions that could make players uncomfortable due to their personal views. The league continues to encourage dialogue, education, and awareness surrounding LGBTQ+ issues and strives to create an environment where all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, feel welcome and accepted.

More about LGBTQ+ inclusivity in MLB

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DodgerBlueFan June 16, 2023 - 11:51 am

As a Dodgers fan, I’m disappointed to hear about the controversy surrounding the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at our Pride Night. Let’s focus on embracing the LGBTQ+ community without offending religious beliefs. Let love and acceptance prevail!

BaseballFan93 June 16, 2023 - 5:18 pm

this is such an important issue, glad to see MLB teams support Pride Nights, but sad that no active player has come out yet. Hopefully, things will change soon and we’ll see more inclusivity in the sport!

SportsLover22 June 16, 2023 - 5:46 pm

MLB needs to do better! It’s 2023, and still no openly gay players? Come on, let’s create an environment where everyone feels accepted and supported, regardless of their sexual orientation. #LGBTQ+inclusivity

BaseballIsLife June 17, 2023 - 12:16 am

It’s great to see some players openly supporting Pride Month and LGBTQ+ rights. The more allies we have, the closer we get to a more inclusive and diverse baseball community. Let’s continue to spread love and acceptance in the game we all love. #LoveWins

TeamPlayer24 June 17, 2023 - 7:07 am

I understand that players may have concerns about coming out due to their careers and personal beliefs, but it’s time for a change. MLB should encourage and celebrate diversity on and off the field. Let’s break those barriers and make history!


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