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. Michael says

    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?

  2. Donald says

    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

  3. says

    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.

  4. Mike says

    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.

  5. Leland says

    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.

  6. Michael says

    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.

  7. Glenn says

    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.

  8. Christopher says

    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.

  9. says

    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?

  10. Toby says

    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.

  11. Dave says

    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.

  12. says

    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…

  13. Jim says

    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.

  14. Michael says

    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.

  15. kelly says

    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?

  16. Corey says

    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.

  17. says

    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.

  18. Michael says

    I think Lewis’ photos are gorgeous. And Billy looks hot.

    The only stale thing around here is the mean-spirited hot air that some of you negative queens are spewing.

  19. Michael says

    Oh, come on! Any monkey with a camera can take a decent photo of a guy who’s already great looking. Who needs artistic composition and lighting when all most people are going to notice are the abs and happy trail hair? (slightly kidding–take no offense please–still being bitchy, apparently) :)

  20. big mama says

    i’m so with Danny re:

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

    if you compare Payton’s pictures, most of his compositions and, more importantly, lighting. almost *never* change, regardless of subjects, which, to me, explain why his photography has an almost ready-made, one stamp-fits-all wax-like feel to it.

  21. says

    Btw Big Mama, Lewis uses only natural lighting, no studio lighting. And most artists have a certain style that becomes a hallmark of their work. Not everyone is going to love every artist or every photographer, that’s for sure.

    But some of these comments are just really nasty. Not constructive or particularly intelligent, just plain mean.

    I’m not a huge fan of censoring comments from the site, but when I see some of the comments written here, it just makes me want to turn the option off altogether. Sometimes that seems like a better option than having to read them.

    Of course not everyone’s going to be a fan of Lewis Payton or Billy Bean. But if you’re not, so what? If the presence of either of them offends you so much that you’ll take the time to write a nasty comment then maybe you should ask yourself why you’re spending your time that way.

    Sure there’s room for criticism, but there’s a way to be critical without being offensive.

    I share Lewis’ photos so those who want to enjoy them can. Not so bitter people can make themselves feel better by tearing someone else apart. Aren’t there better things to do with your time?

  22. Scott says


    You do a great service for the gay community by hosting this blog. Some of us do appreciate your and Lewis’s efforts to capture the beauty of the male form. Apparently, we’re the ones who are more less bitchy and don’t post as often.
    By all means keep up the good work and don’t let the bitter people out there get you down.

  23. rex says

    no children, simply having that body…that he is in his 40s is beside the point (its simply not that amazing–many men have that body in their 40s and some in their 50s) so get over it.

  24. kelly says

    Is there anything that can be said on this site that isn’t immediately pounced upon by some nasty cunt (like Rex)?

    Andy, your site is great but I’m done reading the comments. I’ll stick with your writing.

    Bye bye bitches.

  25. Iceman says

    I am very big fan of photography and Lewis’ work is very good. Yes, there are better photographers but Lewis’ work still ranks above most. I also think Mr. Bean would look better if his hair was a least an inch shorter, but I would be happy to have him as a boyfriend just the way he is. I hope that Mr. Bean will come out to the public more to help gay athletes.

  26. Jim McAnany says

    I don’t understand how you guys can tell me that a man’s hairy ass feels better than a warm pussy? You turd burglars are fuckin out of your minds!!

  27. Paulo says

    Congratulations! Mr. Billy Bean, for whom I knew personally, it’s a great person and helpful friend with great integrity, glad that he feels more comfortable, right now. You Americans just respect his very personal choice. Es muy guapo. Feliz Navidad Billy!

  28. Jerry says

    All the blah blah blah…its his life, hes made mistakes like all of us! His is just public and thats cause he chose it to be that way! I admire him for that….most of us will go to our graves never saying we are sorry for something! Give the guy a break…!!!

  29. OWEN says

    Okay, so i am little late here on the post. I have been reading his book. I can not believe the comments that I have read on this blog. Just amazing. At times, it seems like school yard comments yet with adult content. To the one about the Botax, guess what guy, you are now two years older. Are you still looking in the mirror with fear? It is the types like you that fear aging and when it happens you are alone because you have become the person you so most dreaded and talked about in your “youth”. To the ones making comments about his “coming out”, the way he did it and being a “poster boy”, why is it that you find it so easy to pass judgement on someone unless you have lived the exact life they have. I do not compare my situation to Billy’s but I love my job and work in a male dominated environment which prides itself on calling out “fags”, “queers”, and any other name they bring their sometimes small minds to conjure up to say so I too fear at times to come out. And yes, I have come out only to those I work the closest with. When you have male management in place that remind one of the Gieco commercials, you tend to watch how you act, what you do and say just to keep from becoming their latest topic of conversation. As far as his not going to his partners funeral, all I will say about that is my heart went out to him even though this is something that happened years ago. Well, that is all I have have to say about the comments and ragging on of other posters. I wish Billy Bean the best of luck in anything he does and for a long live with his parter Efrain.

  30. Damon says

    It would be great if every gay person could grow up in some large metropolitan area, with accepting families. However, city gay isn’t the norm. Just as the majority of american population, gay people are born and grow up in less urban area’s.

  31. says

    I just finished reading all of the posts and I have just one thing to say. Most of you sound like a bunch of school girls talking crap about someone you don’t even know. I have heard about Billy Bean and I have been a baseball fan since I was a kid. I remember watching him in some of his games and he was great. I haven’t read his book yet so I cannot comment on the situation, but what is it with you guys,are you so bored at home that you have to do the things that you do, it seems to me that you are very insecure with yourself that you have to knock someone down who cannot defend himself in person. Most of you don’t even know a thing about him, yead he looks great and I would love to have an hour or so with him but that is not the point, the point is that until you know a person you can’t really dis them with the rude and stupid comments that you write. I didn’t have it easy when I came out 28 years ago, but I have seen the changes in acceptance over the years, so those of you who know nothing about what you are saying and writing about have no business being here. The guy who make the oomment about a hairy butt being compared to a pussy, well that is your oppinion, I have tried it before and still I prefer the guy to the girl. You should be on another site, not this one, Well that is all that I have to say, and if I want to write a book well it wouldn’t be here.

  32. says

    What I most appreciate about Billy Bean is his post-retirement work with LGBT athletes, including the political aspect. Ask Martina what she thinks of him – she’ll tell you he’s a stud, and she’s not that impressed with his looks.

  33. Ray says

    I thought the comment about a warm pussy being better than a man’s hairy ass was pretty funny. At least he didn’t call us fags. Turd burglar was a much classier description. LOL!

  34. Joy says

    LOVE HIM… Stumbled across this,,,,,,,But I had the pleasure of meeting him.. and not only is he pretty,, he issssoooooooooooo
    nice… and hotter than any straight guy i know


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