Several Tampa Bay Rays players are foregoing Pride Night uniforms

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Several Tampa Bay Rays players are foregoing Pride Night uniforms

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A member of the Tampa Bay Rays said he and several teammates made a “faith-based decision” not to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms during a Pride Night home game Saturday that recognized the LGBTQ community.

Most Rays players wore the special uniform designs, with a rainbow pattern over the “TB” on their caps and over a sunburst logo on their right sleeves, according to in-game reports. The team, which has hosted Pride Night for several seasons but had previously made no consistent changes, reportedly gave players the option to display the logos or choose the usual look.

Among the Rays who rejected the rainbow logos, according to the Tampa Bay Times, were pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson. While Raley and Beeks appeared in the game, a 3-2 loss to the visiting Chicago White Sox, Adam was given the opportunity to explain why he and others decided against it.

“A lot of it comes down to believing, liking a belief-based decision,” said Adam, a 30-year-old in his fifth major league season. “So it’s a tough decision. Because ultimately we’ve all said what we want is for them to know that everyone is welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, many people have decided that maybe it’s just a lifestyle — not that they look down on anyone or think otherwise — it’s just that we might not want to encourage it if we believe in it Jesus, who encouraged us to live a lifestyle that renounces this behavior, just like [Jesus] encourages me, as a straight man, to abstain from sex outside of marriage. It’s no different.

“It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down,” Adam continued. “It’s just what we believe in not denying the lifestyle he encouraged us to live for our best. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”

The event at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg was scheduled to take place just before the start of Pride Month. In a statement last week, President Biden said an “onslaught of dangerous anti-LGBTQI+ legislation has been introduced and passed in states across the country.”

The Rays’ home state made headlines earlier this year when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law what some have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Parents “should be protected from schools sexualizing their children in the classroom by age 5,” DeSantis said in a statement.

Critics have said the Parental Rights in Education Act, which bans discussion of LGBTQ issues in classrooms from kindergarten through third grade and includes restrictions for older students, intentionally contains vague language that marginalizes LGBTQ people , to stigmatize and to silence.

Rays midfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who reportedly wore the rainbow accent uniform on Saturday, said after that game that the Pride Night event “shows that we want everyone to feel welcome and included when you come to Tropicana Field “.

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“My parents taught me to love everyone for who they are,” Kiermaier, 32, said (via mlb.com). “Go and live your life. Whatever your preferences, be you.”

Ray’s manager Kevin Cash said on Saturday that he “certainly” hopes the internal division didn’t stem from a discussion about LGBTQ issues that took place among his players. The manager, in his eighth season at Tampa Bay, claimed his players learned to respect different perspectives.

“First and foremost, I think the organization has done a really good thing in that Pride Nights is helping our gay community come out and have a nice night at the stadium,” Cash said (via Associated Press). “Impressed that our players have had these conversations and we want to do our best to support our players who choose to carry or not.”

In an online exchange with media personality Keith Olbermann, the challenged Adam’s characterization of the teachings of Jesus the jug tweeted: “I promise you, my intention was never to shame anyone. My greatest wish is to love and live like Jesus every day.”

In addition to the special uniforms, the Rays gave away miniature Pride flags on Pride Night and donated to a local health and wellness organization.

The franchise’s previous gestures have included being one of the first sports teams to sign an amicus letter with the Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage in 2015 and honoring the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando during its Pride Night im honor 2016.

“It’s an important night for our organization and an opportunity for us to highlight inclusion overall,” said team president Matt Silverman. “Having lived as a community during filming at Pulse nightclub, we know how important nights like this are in signaling our fans and our community an open invitation to enjoy baseball, and I know our overall message is inclusivity. “

The team also recently spoke out on the issue of gun violence. Following the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, the Rays issued a statement last month saying “we cannot turn a deaf ear” to such incidents and pledged to make a donation to a national gun violence prevention organization .

A few days later, DeSantis vetoed a $35 million state spending plan that would have gone towards a youth sports complex that would have been touted as a possible future spring training center for the Rays. The governor, a gun rights supporter, subsequently said he did not support “giving taxpayers’ money to professional sports stadiums” and that it was “also inappropriate to subsidize the political activism of a private company.”

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