Photography | Sports

Billy Bean Like You've Never Seen Him

Billybeantr01_1In the issue of Blue magazine on newsstands now, you'll find a juicy article about former pro-baseball player Billy Bean, written and photographed by the all-around talent and friend of Towleroad Lewis Payton.

You'll notice this jock has spent a bit of time letting his hair grow out — I think it looks great.

It's also Billy Bean's first nude photo shoot!

There are quite a few chewable quotes in the interview on the relationships he had to hide while a pro baseball player, what made him decide to come out of the closet abruptly in 1999, and his efforts to get young gay athletes to do the same.

On realizing his sexuality late in life:

"I’d never had sex with a guy, so how would I know I was gay? Looking back I ask, ‘How did I not know?’ but I had led a truly sheltered life in the suburbs. I never saw a gay porno magazine, I didn’t even think such a thing existed. It sounds naïve but this was the ‘70s. There was no Internet, no Will & Grace, I didn’t have any gay relatives. My parents were very conservative, my stepfather was a cop and a Marine Corps veteran. It wasn’t like I grew up in a diverse artistic world."

On how the closet affected his relationship with his parents:

"I squandered most of my opportunities running like a fugitive in and out of my gay shadows. I exhausted so much energy trying to be the perfect son for my parents and ultimately the only way I could do that and sustain it was to run away and lie about my real life. All along I thought I was going to disappoint them or that they would reject me and yet in the process of trying to avoid that separation, I actualized it."

You'll have to check out Blue for the rest of the story. The article will catch you up on this jock's life but the real star here are the photos — relaxed and very sexy, and well, somewhat more revealing than these. Thanks, Lewis, for letting me share a few of them.

Click photos for larger versions.

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  1. Billy Bean is very nice looking but I don't see what the big deal is with him. He didn't come out while he was IN baseball. He didn't go to his partner's funeral for Christ's sake, for fear of his teammates finding out. What is there about him that we should put him on a pedestal, other than his nice looks?

    Posted by: Michael | Aug 11, 2005 5:57:02 PM

  2. Everyone's coming out process is different. We can not judge people for how or how long it took to realize their true nature. Mine was easy his was not it.

    And besides these pictures are so hot I can't stand up at my desk. I have to read the Drudge report to settle down

    Posted by: Donald | Aug 11, 2005 6:15:16 PM

  3. I feel the need to respond to this. Having spent some time with Billy while preparing this article, he makes absolutely no bones about the fact that his story is very much a cautionary tale - "I tell my story so that no one else has to go through the same experiences as I did". Billy has survived such tragedy and squandered opportunities, yet he has the grace and generosity to honestly share his shortcomings, along with his triumphs. Billy Bean isn't asking to be put on a pedestal, he is simply sharing his fascinating and complex life story.

    Posted by: Lewis Payton | Aug 11, 2005 6:20:53 PM

  4. Lewis, after seeing several of your photos now, I am convinced that you are a super-talented photographer. You capture a wonderful beauty in all of the men and women you photograph. Excellent work.

    Posted by: Mike | Aug 11, 2005 6:57:55 PM

  5. LOVE these photos.

    Posted by: Doug | Aug 11, 2005 7:49:18 PM

  6. Amending what I wrote yesterday in reference to actors being the only profession I could forgive closetry, I should have added athletes. Just about the most a gay actor/actress might lose by coming out is a career. As painful as that might be in direct correlation to how passionate one was about it, team sport athletes could lose even more. Esera Tualo expressed concern that some in his field--football--might have taken their resentment of a gay player out on him on the field. Bean could have been purposely injured by baseball hurled at him at bat or diving for base. And I respect anyone who not just evolves but admits that they needed to.

    Posted by: Leland | Aug 11, 2005 8:02:06 PM

  7. Really great photos... Lewis is great!

    Posted by: Senhor Made In Brazil | Aug 11, 2005 8:32:49 PM

  8. I suppose I should apologize for my earlier post--it was borderline mean-spirited. Everyone's coming out story is indeed different. My opinion of him is undoubtedly colored by what I've read in the Advocate interviews about (what Mr. Payton describes above) as his "squandered opportunities" and "shortcomings". Maybe after I've read about his "triumphs" in the Blue article, my opinion will soften.

    Posted by: Michael | Aug 11, 2005 8:53:41 PM

  9. Lewis, beautiful photos. Can't wait to see the issue. I think whenever someone in the public eye comes out, and shares their story -- whether it be heroic or not -- it's a benefit to someone who's struggling with their own process. So bravo to Billy.

    Posted by: Glenn | Aug 11, 2005 9:11:45 PM

  10. Why does this photographer make everyone look the same in every photo he takes?

    And Billy: LOSE the long hair -- it's not working.

    Posted by: Dr9021No | Aug 11, 2005 10:08:47 PM

  11. For you, the long hair is not working. For me, it certainly is.

    Posted by: daniel | Aug 11, 2005 10:54:46 PM

  12. Thanks to Andy for putting out this information and Lewis for the pictures and the article. Although Billy is retired from baseball, he did make some contributions (perhaps not overly significant) to the history of MLB. Although I do think his "coming out" after his retirement is what people remember most about him. With that being said, I do think his "coming out" is important. Perhaps his story will help atheletes, especially those who have yet to make it big, understand the difficulties of hiding one's true self. Although, it would have been great if he had came out while still being in MLB. I appreciate what he had to do.

    Questions for Andy and Lewis--What issue number is this article in and where can it be purchased? Thanks.

    Posted by: Christopher | Aug 12, 2005 12:16:17 AM

  13. Although admitting your homosexuality is difficult, courageous, and admirable regardless of where, when, how, or who you are, I can't help but wonder if we would be as interested in Mr. Bean if he didn't remotely look the way he does. Would we really be intersted if a retired male athlete admitted his homosexuality but was not even remotely attractive as Mr. Bean? Would we even give it a second glance if he was visually the total opposite? Thoughts?

    Posted by: tim | Aug 12, 2005 12:44:33 AM

  14. Is it just me or does he look like Ricardo Montalban in The Wrath of Khan? It's the hair.

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 12, 2005 2:23:06 AM

  15. Whoa, whoa, whoa... he needs to Botox it up a little.

    Posted by: Kasper | Aug 12, 2005 2:57:03 AM

  16. Actually I never heard of Billy Bean until today, but those quotes could almost have come from me. The suburbs in the 70s could be a terrifyingly lonely place for young gays, and many of us who grew up that way did not find the courage to accept ourselves (let alone come out) until it was long past time to do so. As strange as it sounds, I went into a gay bar for the first time at 25 and came out to my parents in my middle thirties. My partner, who grew up in similar circumstances, came out to his parents when he was 14. Even though my family has been very accepting, my partner has a closeness with his family that I am still trying to find.

    Posted by: Toby | Aug 12, 2005 6:18:39 AM

  17. No, we wouldn't be paying attention to Billy B if he weren't 1-mildly famous and 2-obviously do-able.

    Billy's story relates to a certain segment/generation of gay men. I doubt most under 25 gay men can relate unless they're stuck in the sticks currently suffering under similar circumstances. I see more and more under 21 guys who're out and fine with it. They hang out with their straight friends and don't embrace the typical gay millieu. It's a sea change, a paradigm shift that many 30+ gay men do not see coming and will not understand.

    Posted by: Dave | Aug 12, 2005 8:19:12 AM

  18. damn -

    tough crowd on this post!

    needing botox? Thank you for your contribution to the youth-obsessed culture, comments like that only perpetuate the cause.

    Looking the same as other photos? Well then, I say, well done. Perhaps Payton has a style, a voice in photography? C'mon now...

    Damn Andy, you've got some snarky readers out there...

    Posted by: jason | Aug 12, 2005 10:01:19 AM

  19. Congratulations Lewis and Billy on a beautiful series of photos. Can't wait to see the article in "Blue." My coming out story is very similar to Billy's.

    I grew up in Ohio in the 70s without any sense of what gay life could mean. I came out at 40 after a 13 year marriage (yes, to a woman). My coming out was painful for both of us, but absolutely the right thing to do (however late).

    It's reaffirming to see someone like Billy who is moving forward in his life with grace and dignity. I've also had the pleasure to meet Billy. He seems just as charming and genuinely nice as he is gorgeous.

    Posted by: Jim | Aug 12, 2005 10:01:59 AM

  20. I guess my question is, "what's so important or significant about his coming out?" Like Tim mentioned above, would we care if he wasn't so good looking? Does this Blue article tell us anything more than the other articles we've read about him, or is it just an excuse to print nude photos of his newly-chisled features? Nothing I've read about his story makes me want to like the guy and whenever I see an article about him, it's the same story, new photos. What is he doing right now, in the present, to warrant the attention? "Good-looking Guy Comes Out After It's Safe" stories are really only good for one telling.

    Posted by: Michael | Aug 12, 2005 10:35:57 AM

  21. If you wanted anything more significant or important than nice photography, then maybe you should look somewhere other than Blue Magazine.

    Fuck! Why is everyone so bitchy?

    Posted by: kelly | Aug 12, 2005 10:59:56 AM

  22. Yeah, Kasper, unless you are under 10 years old, you're going to be "needing" Botox before you know it.

    So, get ready, dude.

    Billy looks great. It's not like this is a profile from The Economist magazine.

    Posted by: Corey | Aug 12, 2005 12:38:35 PM

  23. Most people who insult others publicly usually have some sort of grave insecurity.

    Posted by: stan | Aug 12, 2005 12:51:41 PM

  24. Billy's face looks fine, but I'm worried about this freaky John Basedow fatless look that's been coming up all over. Frankly, most normal people don't have the time for that kind of body, and I personally don't mind a little junk in da trunk, ya know? Let's be real with our photoshoots and represent the other guys, OK? While I'm also concerned about he high level of morbid obesity in the bear scene, there has to be a middle ground somewhere, so to speak.

    Posted by: jimbo | Aug 12, 2005 1:09:14 PM

  25. Lewis Payton has but ONE style, and it gets stale, real quick.

    Posted by: Danny | Aug 12, 2005 1:24:05 PM

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