MLB Gets 1st Active Openly Gay Player
David Denson says hiding his sexuality was becoming 'depression level'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2015 11:40 AM CDT
David Denson of the Helena Brewers farm team has become Major League Baseball's first openly gay player.   (AP Photo/Ogden Raptors)

(Newser) – A player on a Milwaukee Brewers farm team has become the first active player in Major League Baseball to come out as gay, and as the Journal-Sentinel tells it, David Denson sort of did it accidentally—in response to being called a gay slur by a Helena Brewers teammate who he says didn't know he was gay. So he came out as a crowd gathered in the locker room. But then, after "talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them," Denson says. "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." From there, Denson reached out to former player Billy Bean, MLB's Ambassador for Inclusion who eventually quit baseball after hiding his homosexuality for years.

"Any player who happens to be gay and is a professional and has kept that secret, they just want to be judged for their baseball or football or basketball ability," says Bean. Denson says hiding his sexuality was taking a toll. "It became a depression level," he tells the Journal Sentinel. "I didn't know if I should still stay in the sport. ... I wasn't doing it to be brave. I just couldn't hide it anymore." Bean, who is described as being "in constant contact" with Denson, says the younger man has found "huge relief. When your life is a secret, you have to navigate on what levels of truth you're allowed to share. And that becomes exhausting." Meanwhile, ESPN notes that Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, has left his team in the CFL, citing his mental health.