David Denson, a first baseman for the minor league rookie affiliate team of the Milwaukee Brewers, is the first active Major League Baseball player to come out as gay. Denson’s decision to come out came by way of a teammate using a homophobic slur, but the player says he was supported by the rest of the team to make his announcement.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled Denson, which revealed the details of his life leading up to his decision. Denson, 20, came out to his teammates on the back of some locker room ribbing which he said gave him the impetus to move forward and exclusively made news available of his announcement to the Journal Sentinel.
From the Journal Sentinel:
A first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers’ rookie affiliate in Helena, Mont., Denson had just entered the clubhouse a month or so ago when a teammate jokingly referred to him using a derogatory term for a gay male. It was the kind of profane, politically incorrect banter heard in that environment since team sports have been around.
That teammate had no way of knowing Denson actually is gay, but the 20-year-old slugger of African-American and Hispanic descent quickly seized the opportunity.
“Be careful what you say. You never know,” Denson cautioned the player with a smile.
Before he knew it, Denson was making the emotional announcement he yearned to share, and the group around him expanded to the point that he soon was speaking to most of the team. Much to Denson’s relief, when the conversation ended he was greeted with outward support and understanding instead of condemnation.
Denson sought advice from the MLB’s first Ambassador of Inclusion, Billy Bean. Bean and former player Glenn Burke both came out as gay after concluding their MLB baseball careers. Sean Conroy, a pitcher for a smaller pro league, was the first player to come out as gay after making his announcement this past June.