Billy Bean joins Gay Games Ambassadors

Other Gay Games Ambassadors include tennis legend Billie Jean King, former U.S. Ambassador James Hormel, Olympic gold medal swimmer Bruce Hayes, actress Judith Light, and artist Tom Bianchi

April 02, 2004
Former U.S. Major League Baseball player Billy Bean

NEW YORK — Billy Bean, prominent spokesperson for the LGBT community and ten-year professional baseball veteran, is joining the Gay Games Ambassadors program, it was announced today by the Federation of Gay Games.

"For 20 years the Gay Games has been instrumental in fostering positive images of the LGBT community through sports and culture," said Bean from his home in Miami Beach. "As a lifelong athlete and gay man, supporting the Gay Games and its principles of 'participation, inclusion and personal best' is something I can embrace with a great amount of enthusiasm. I'm pleased to be asked to join the Gay Games Ambassadors."

Gay Games VII will be held in Chicago from 15-22 July 2006. Bean joins a list of Gay Games Ambassadors supporting the upcoming Chicago event including tennis legend Billie Jean King, former U.S. Ambassador James Hormel, Olympic gold medal swimmer Bruce Hayes, actress Judith Light, and artist Tom Bianchi.

Bean, a California native, joined the Detroit Tigers in 1987 with a bang by tying a U.S. record with four hits in his first major league game. He subsequently played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. In 1996, in the prime of his career, Bean walked away from Major League Baseball, in part because of a year-long struggle dealing with the sudden death of his former partner, and the frustration of holding on to that secret alone. His desire not to let that happen to anyone else motivated him to come out in 1999, sharing his story and urging people to use honesty as a foundation for life.

For the past five years Bean has worked actively to dispel myths and stereotypes about people of diversity, particularly in athletics. He serves as a national spokesperson for the U.S. organisation the Human Rights Campaign, doing outreach to young adults who are desperately in need of a role model.

"Billy's accomplishments since his days in professional baseball have brought him widespread attention and admiration because he's been working to make a positive difference in the world," said Federation of Gay Games co-president Roberto Mantaci of Paris. "He is a perfect addition to our Ambassadors program as the Gay Games has similar goals."

Bean is one of very few former professional athletes and the only living former Major League Baseball player to acknowledge his homosexuality. He and his partner of nine years, Efrain Veiga, share a real estate business redeveloping residential properties. He is the author of "Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life In and Out of Major League Baseball" (Avalon Publishing Group, NYC). A film adaptation of his book, produced by Storyline Entertainment, will air soon on the Showtime, a U.S. television network.

"I'm also looking forward to participating at the Chicago Gay Games by playing in the tennis tournament," said Bean. "And, although I won't be playing softball, you can bet I'll find time to attend a game or two to give some encouraging cheers."

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