As more and more athletes open up about being gay, creating a strong impact on the LGBT movement in sports, it is important to remember and recognize those who have been out for many years. Glenn Burke was the first ever MLB player to come out as gay while still playing professional baseball. By coming out as gay in 1982, Burke became one of the LGBT trailblazers in sports.
"They can't ever say now that a gay man can't play in the majors, because I'm a gay man and I made it" said Glenn Burke.
“It’s harder to be gay in sports than anywhere else, except maybe president,” Burke said in 1982, when he came out publicly in an Inside Sports magazine article. “Baseball is probably the hardest sport of all.”
In 1994, Burke was diagnosed with AIDS and passed away in 1995, at the age of 42. As the NY Times reports, almost 20 years after his death, the Major League Baseball hopes to make the league more LGBT inclusive and invites players to come out. As a way to show their support to the LGBT community and acknowledge Glenn's monumental role in the movement, the MLB invited Burke's family members to the All-Star Game in Minneapolis.
“He was a pioneer, and should be recognized,” Pat Courtney, a Major League Baseball spokesman, said.
Since there is no openly out player in the MLB, it is imperative that the league creates a safer and more inclusive environment for players to publicly come out. The public support of out players would ultimately not only affect athletes hoping to come out but also fans and the baseball community as a whole.