- Some Tampa Bay Rays players refused to don Pride Night attire Saturday, peeling off rainbow patches.
- Bryan Ruby, the only out gay active professional baseball player, called it “sad and frustrating.”
- “Discrimination and hate has a voice in baseball, and you saw it in Tampa,” Ruby told Insider.
After a handful of Tampa Bay Rays players refused to wear rainbow-clad uniforms for Pride Night on Saturday, the only out gay active player in professional baseball said “discrimination and hate has a voice in baseball and you saw it in Tampa.”
“We have seen a lot of teams selling rainbow merchandise and doing Pride Nights, which is great, but they need to actually support their players,” Bryan Ruby said of the situation in Tampa Bay, which he called “sad and frustrating.”
“We get one night at the ballpark to be ourselves all year, and it just was an indication that a lot of people still believe that we just don’t belong there and that we are not welcome and, even on Pride Night, we’re still second-class citizens,” he said.
The Rays held their 16th annual Pride Night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Saturday.
All players were provided Pride Night uniforms with rainbow-colored logos, including caps with a rainbow “TB” and a rainbow sunburst on their right jersey sleeves, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
But some players, including pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs, and Ryan Thompson, opted against wearing the Pride Night attire, donning their regular hats and peeling off the sunburst logo from their sleeves, the Times reported.
Adam told reporters the players’ decision came down to religious beliefs and not wanting to encourage the “behavior” of LGBTQ people, the Times reported.
Ruby wondered why the stadium’s compliance officer, whose job is to ensure players are wearing their uniforms correctly, didn’t take action.
“If a player flat-out refused to wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, I have no doubt they would be fined,” he said, adding that none of the Rays players had faced discipline for stripping their uniforms of rainbow logos.
Ruby, a 26-year-old who has been playing ball since he was 6, publicly came out as gay during his 2021 stint on the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, an independent team that was once an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
He had already been out to his friends and family for five years, but he said it took him so long to come out in baseball because he was never able to actively point to someone in Major League Baseball and see someone like him.
“I was leading a double life,” he told Insider. “I was a different person at home than I was on the field.”
MLB has never had an out gay active player in its 146-year history.
Ruby said he was fearful of losing his job when he first came out, though he added that he had begun to proudly don rainbow laces in his cleats.
“Every day at work I’d lace up my cleats and put my ball cap on and be completely in the closet, and finally I just got tired of it,” he added. “I didn’t feel any shame anymore about who I was, and I was proud of who I was.”
Ruby cofounded Proud To Be In Baseball in 2021 alongside Michael Holland and Sam Culwell — two former baseball players who, respectively, came out as gay and bisexual while playing and who reached out to Ruby after he came out.
The nonprofit’s website says its goal is to “advocate for the next generation of LGBTQ people in baseball” while providing resources and building awareness.
“No one is really speaking up for LGBTQ people in baseball, and we started doing that,” Ruby said, adding that there had been interest from players — and even a few MLB teams — about working together to promote inclusivity.
Ruby said he’d taken time away from baseball to focus on the nonprofit and Pride month but added that he’d be back on the diamond again later this summer. Ruby said he hoped LGTBQ players would eventually receive enough widespread support that advocacy organizations like his would be obsolete.
He said he hoped the situation in Tampa Bay wouldn’t deter other teams from wearing rainbow logos.
He added that he hoped teams would take a step further to “think more carefully about what they can actually do to support the gay baseball players that they have in their organizations that aren’t comfortable enough yet to reveal who they are.”
“Who you date,” he said, “has nothing to do with if you can hit a 95 mph fastball.”
#Gay #pro #baseball #player #discrimination #hate #voice #baseball #Tampa #Bay #Rays #players #refused #wear #Pride #Night #uniforms