David Denson, a minor league baseball player in Wisconsin, made baseball history over the weekend after coming out as gay.

David Denson Comes Out

Denson plays for the Milwaukee Brewers’ rookie affiliate in Helena, and unexpectedly came out to his teammates after a teammate jokingly referred to him with a gay slur. “Be careful what you say. You never know,” Denson told his teammate with a smile. The sly comment eventually evolved into a full-on coming out that extended to the rest of the minor league team.

Fortunately for Denson, his teammates reacted with support and told the athlete that the revelation did not make them feel any differently towards him. As with before, to them, he was still foremost a teammate and a ballplayer.

“Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them,” Denson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “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. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.’ ”

“That was a giant relief for me,” Denson added. “I never wanted to feel like I was forcing it on them. It just happened. The outcome was amazing. It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality.”

After getting the support of his teammates, Denson decided that he wanted to take his coming out a step further and do it publicly. Billy Bean, who came out after his professional career ended and now serves as Major League Baseball’s first Ambassador for Inclusion, helped him do just that. By speaking publicly about his sexuality, Denson has become the first active player in affiliated professional baseball to come out as gay.

“David is not doing this for celebrity or publicity,” said Bean. “David is very humble. It’s really about being his best self. He’s a great baseball player, but he needs to be his best self to get to the big leagues.”

Denson is currently batting .253 with four homers and 17 RBI in 41 games with Helena. Though he’s not an elite prospect out of the Brewers organization, he is known to have impressive power in his swing, sending a homer 515 feet in a showcase, which gives him a shot at the majors. Denson doesn’t have any expectations one way or the other as to whether or not he’ll eventually make the team, but he hopes to get a shot if he proves he deserves it.

“Baseball has taught me a lot of life lessons. One is to worry about what you can control and not worry about what you can’t control. I’m going to go out and do the best I can do, and hopefully make it one day,” Denson said. “I think what I do on the field will matter more than my sexuality. At the end of the day, if I’m playing well, why should I not get the same opportunity as anyone else?”