Ron Matthew Inawat is president of the GoPride Network and contributes to ChicagoPride.com, PrideLA.com and other sites within the GoPride Network.
In 1999, former MLB player Billy Bean made headlines when he came out in the Miami Herald, that lead to a front-page article in the New York Times. Four years later, Bean is showing he's now at ease with being a gay role model.
"I'm a living example of living an open and honest life", Bean recently told the Herald. "I'm a role model for a lot of kids and I feel a lot of responsibility for that. I would have loved to have read this when I was 19 years old. It would have changed my life."
Bean is currently on a tour promoting his new book, Going The Other Way-Lessons From A Life In And Out Of Major League Baseball.
While the autobiography is a revealing and insightful perspective on homosexuality in professional sports, it's more than just a book about baseball.
Bean shares the emotion and turmoil surrounding his coming to terms with his sexual orientation mixed with the pressures of living a very public life.
As part of the continuing book tour, Bean will be leading off Chicago's 34th Annual Pride Parade on Sunday June 29 at Noon.
Recently Bean took a moment from the tour to answer ChicagoPride's Twenty-One Questions.
CP: Date of Birth & Birth Sign
BB: May 11, 1964 - Taurus
CP: What was your favorite book or toy when you were a kid?
BB: My favorite book was usually any comic book about Superman or Batman. That was how I taught myself to read as a small kid.
CP: What was your dream as a kid?
BB: To be a superhero.
I wanted to save my mom from danger!!
CP: What's under and/or next to your bed?
BB: Usually my dog Paco.
It's his bedroom, and he allows Efrain and me to sleep there!
(Efrain Veiga, a Miami restaurateur and Billy's partner)
CP: First thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
BB: Make Cuban coffee for Efrain.
CP: boxers? briefs? both? neither?
BB: Definitely briefs.....when necessary.
CP: What's ALWAYS in your fridge?
BB: Gallons of water, and tons of protein bars.
CP: What is something in your home that would make a stranger KNOW you were gay?
BB: My bathroom.
CP: What is something in your home that might make a stranger think you were straight?
BB: All my sports equipment laying around, and my subscription to Sports Illustrated.
CP: What is your most prized possession?
BB: My health.
CP: What is your most memorable experience?
BB: Tough question....life experience or professional? Professional experience was my first big league home run against the Philadelphia Phillies.
(July 15, 1993)
CP: What makes you most proud?
BB: That I have put the closet behind me and found a way to live my life honestly and openly, inclusive of my family and friends.
CP: What is your trademark characteristic?
BB: I am a perfectionist, who is extremely hard on myself.
CP: What is your indulgence?
CP: What are you superstitious about?
BB: I believe what "goes around, comes around."
CP: What was high school like for you?
BB: I was very lucky to have a great high school experience. very...."BMOC kinda thing..."
CP: How do you spend your free time?
BB: I don't have much free time lately.....but, when I do have some, I usually slip in an extra workout.
CP: Do you collect anything?
BB: Besides CD's.
I am not a gatherer.
I actually like to "get rid of stuff" more than I like collecting it.
CP: What's the nicest thing that someone did for you?
BB: My partner, Efrain, decided to spend his life with me.
CP: What's your theme song?
BB: Music motivates everything I do.
Favorite all time theme song for me, "Time for me to fly" by REO Speedwagon.
CP: Finish this sentence: "Being gay is ___________"
BB: just one of the many ways all people in this world are slightly different from one another. Diversity is one of the most beautiful and important things in life. It is so important for all of us in our community to be shining examples of pride and self respect.