LGBT baseball fans came out to Turner Field Wednesday night for the Atlanta Braves’ fourth annual “Out in the Stands” event, benefiting homeless LGBT youth organization Lost-N-Found Youth. The Braves beat the Nationals 3-1.

The game was preceded by a reception where fans mingled with Billy Bean, Major League Baseball’s Ambassador of Inclusion. Bean came out after he retired from baseball and wrote a book about his experience called “Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life In and Out of Major League Baseball.”

“These are the same people that have been coming to Braves games forever, but the fact that we as a community feel comfortable to be visible and share the common bond with the rest of the Braves fans, to me that is a great message for everybody,” Bean told the GA Voice. “The whole reason we’re here is because we love baseball and I think in the past people just didn’t understand how many common interests we all have.”

The spotlight has been on the NFL and NBA in recent times as far as openly gay players, and Bean says that MLB will be ready whenever a player decides to come out.

“I think baseball is going to prove to every player who might be dealing with that fact the same way I did, is that they are going to say ‘We’re here to support you. When the time is right if you need to come out to be your best self, we’ll support it. If you’re not ready and you want to just tell your family and you need a little bit of guidance, we’ll be there for you with 100 percent discretion,'” Bean said.

“MLB’s looking for the best product, and for players to be their very best they have to be able to go out on the field clear-minded. That was one of the things that pushed me out of baseball. I just never reached out. It just felt like I was living in a tiny dark place all alone. And the greatest mistake of my career was not reaching out within baseball and trusting that I would have support, and now we’re going to make sure that every player knows that that’s there for them if they want it.”

psaunders@thegavoice.com | @patricksaunders

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