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Pride In Sports History: Three out active gay athletes before 1999

These three men came out in their pro sports leagues before the turn of the millennium.

Rugby League Test match - Eng v Aus Photo by Anton Want/Getty Images

Before many of the publicly out gay male athletes we recognize today, there were three male athletes who came out between the late ‘70s and mid ‘90s who helped blaze a trail for those who would come after them.

In the United States, Major League Baseball player Glenn Burke was out to his teammates with both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics before retiring from the sport.

Justin Fashanu came out publicly in England’s Premier League years before his career came to an end in a very sad suicide.

Professional rugby player Ian Roberts came out publicly in Australia in a culture that has trailed behind that of the United States in acceptance to gay athletes and issues like same-sex marriage.

All three of these men balked the trend and shared their true identities as gay men either with teammates and team management or publicly. All of them continued to have a career despite the public or powerful men in their sport knowing they were gay.