Several Tampa Bay Rays players opted out of wearing uniforms with rainbow-colored logos to display support for gay pride, citing their belief in Jesus Christ as the reason.
Tampa Bay Rays players refused to wear the Gay Pride logo on their uniforms this weekend — saying their religious beliefs wouldn't allow it, but also saying they accept everyone. https://t.co/YuLjXTSjNc
— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) June 5, 2022
“In an effort to make their commitment [to the LGBTQ+ community] more visible, the Rays this year decided to follow the lead of the Giants and add rainbow-colored logos to their Pride Night uniforms, to the “TB” on their caps and a sunburst on their right jersey sleeves,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.
While an exact breakdown wasn’t provided, several players did not want to be included.
Pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were among those who did not, electing to remove the burst logo and wear the standard hat.
Team officials chose Jason Adam to speak on behalf of the players who opted out of wearing the gay pride uniforms.
Adam explained that the reason for the players’ refusal to signal their virtue was that gay pride contradicts Christianity.
“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision,” Adam said.
“So it’s a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different.”
Five Tampa Bay Rays pitchers removed 🏳️🌈 logo from their uniforms during annual Pride night.
Jason Adams says: “Maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle to abstain from that behavior.”
— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) June 6, 2022
“It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down. It’s just what we believe the lifestyle he’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here,” he added.
From the Tampa Bay Times:
Rays officials would have preferred full participation but also felt it was important to give players and staff the choice, viewing it — somewhat semantically — as an “opt-in” exercise.
The topic sparked numerous conversations — team-wide, small-group and individual — over the last several weeks. Players on both sides and management said they were constructive and did not create any division.
“I certainly hope not,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I think what it has created is, like, what you’ve heard — a lot of conversation and valuing the different perspectives inside the clubhouse but really appreciating the community that we’re trying to support here.”
Veteran outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who wore the cap and burst logo, said inclusivity was an important element to him.
“It’s one of those things, my parents taught me to love everyone as they are, go live your life, whatever your preferences are, go be you,” Kiermaier said. “I can’t speak for everyone who’s in here, obviously, but this is a family-friendly environment here at a big-league ball field. … We just want everyone to feel welcomed and included and cheer us on. No matter what your views on anything are.”
The Rays have backed LGBTQ+ efforts in several ways, including being the first pro sports team to sign an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage and joining the “It Gets Better” campaign to fight youth bullying.