An openly gay professional baseball player is speaking out after a number of Tampa Bay Rays players decided not to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms on “Pride Night” in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Bryan Ruby, an athlete and musician who publicly came out as gay last year, recently told USA Today that the behavior “sends a very clear message” that “LGBTQ people are not welcome here.”
“A lot of guys just don’t understand that they’ve always had and always will have gay teammates. Such antiquated language and behavior actively harms the team. It’s hard enough being gay in baseball,” Ruby said.
Rays pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were among the players who chose not to wear the rainbow-colored patches, with Adam citing the reasoning as a “faith-based decision.”
“It’s exactly what we believe in, not holding back the lifestyle He (Jesus) encouraged us to live for our good,” Adam previously told the Tampa Bay Times. “But again, we love these men and women, we care about them and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”
However, Ruby noted that the meaning behind the message can be interpreted as the opposite.
“It always baffles me when guys use Jesus as an excuse for their discrimination,” Ruby said, later adding, “This isn’t about religion. This is about being a good teammate. When guys go out of their way to oppose Pride Night, they send a clear message that baseball just doesn’t welcome people like me. It’s a reminder that even on the one night we can be proud of ourselves in the stadium, we’re still second-class citizens. As simple as that.”
Ruby, who helped found the nonprofit LGBTQ+ support group Proud To Be In Baseball, added that the situation sends a disturbing message that with such a lack of support, players may not be able to be their authentic selves .
“When your teammates go out of their way to show they don’t accept you, it can be absolutely devastating, and it’s obviously pretty darn hard to adapt and play well,” said Ruby, who played for the Salem last year -Keiser Volcanoes played for the Mavericks Independent Baseball League. “What does it say to all the young minor leagues who dream of one day getting a chance in the big leagues? That once you get there, you can live your dream but only have to hide it from the world at the expense of your authentic self? It’s both sad and annoying to know that most other guys like me are relegated to eggshells in the shadows of a culture that’s still eerily reminiscent of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” world we’re all about allegedly removed us over a decade ago.”
Along with Ruby, Cardinal pitcher Jack Flaherty also tore the Rays amid the growing controversy.
Elsewhere Nick Anderson of the Rays offered a message in support of his teammates, tweeted: “It amazes me how people don’t understand that there are different beliefs. And because you have different beliefs, that doesn’t mean in any way, shape or form that you look down on that person or think that they are less worthy. You can love anyone and have different beliefs.”
Anderson posted a longer message Monday after his initial tweet.
“When I say different beliefs, I’m talking about the people who believe that everyone should wear something and if you don’t you should burn and be a terrible person or whatever you want to call them. I also said that just because you might not be wearing a said patch doesn’t mean you think those people should be on fire and are horrible people. Come on everyone,” he wrote.