An openly gay professional baseball player is speaking out following the decision made by a number of Tampa Bay Rays players not to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms for “Pride Night” in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Bryan Ruby, an athlete and musician who came out publicly as gay last year, recently told USA Today that the behavior exhibited “sends a very clear message” that “LGBTQ people are not welcome here.”
“A lot of guys just don’t get that they’ve always had, and will continue to have, gay teammates. Such antiquated language and behavior actively hurts the team. It’s hard enough to be 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 just what we believe the lifestyle he’s (Jesus) encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold,” 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.”
Ruby noted, however, that the meaning behind the message can be interpreted as the opposite.
“It always baffles me when guys use Jesus as their excuse to discriminate,” Ruby said, later adding, “This isn’t about religion. This is about being a good teammate. When guys go out of their way to make a point of opposing Pride Night, they’re sending a clear message that people like me just aren’t welcome in baseball. It’s a reminder that even on the one night we get to be proud of ourselves at the ballpark, we are still second-class citizens. It’s as simple as that.”
Ruby, who helped create the non-profit LGBTQ+ support group, Proud To Be In Baseball, added how the situation sends a troubling message that players may not be able to be their authentic selves with such a lack of support.
“When your teammates go out of their way to indicate they don’t accept you, it can be absolutely crushing, and obviously pretty damn hard to suit up and play well,” said Ruby, who last year played for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Mavericks Independent Baseball League. “What does it say to all the young minor leaguers dreaming of one day getting a shot in the big leagues? That once you get there, you can live your dream but only at the cost of hiding your authentic self from the world? It’s both sad and infuriating to know most other guys like me are relegated to walking on eggshells in the shadows of a culture still eerily reminiscent of the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ world we supposedly moved on from over a decade ago “
In addition to Ruby, Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty also ripped the Rays amid the growing controversy.
Elsewhere, the Rays’ Nick Anderson offered a message in support of his teammates, tweeting, “It’s astonishing to me how people don’t understand that different beliefs exist. And because you have different beliefs, in no way, shape, or form does that mean you look down on that individual or think they are lesser. You can love everyone and have differing beliefs.”
Anderson posted a lengthier message Monday following his initial tweet.
“When I say differing beliefs, I’m talking about the people who believe everyone should wear something and if you don’t, you should burn and are a terrible person or whatever name you want to call them. I was also saying that just because you don’t wear maybe a said ‘patch’ doesn’t mean you think those people should burn and are terrible people. Come on everyone,” he wrote.