Glenn Burke became the first former professional baseball player to come out of the closet when he discussed his sexuality in 1982 in an Inside Sports magazine article and on "The Today Show" with Bryant Gumbel.
The athlete was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976 to play in the outfield. Out to his family and friends, Burke was soon traded to the Oakland A's and rumors about his sexuality began to swirl. His glass closet case wasn't entirely welcomed in the locker room, and he left the A's shortly after his arrival in Oakland. Burke retired from baseball at the age of 27.
"Prejudice drove me out of baseball sooner than I should have," Burke said in an interview with the New York Times in 1994. After that, Burke, who became revered in the Castro, played in Gay Softball World Series and may have even invented the high five, passed away from AIDS in May 1995 at the age of 42.
Burke's coming out paved the way for a handful of other athletes to follow such as Billy Bean and John Amaechi. In September 2011, Burke's former L.A. Dodgers made a video for the "It Gets Better" project, a national campaign aimed at supporting LGBT youth.
Each day in October, which is LGBT History Month, we'll be featuring a different LGBT icon. Check back tomorrow for a look at another incredible individual who changed history and visit our LGBT History Month Big News Page for more stories.
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