Players from the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team opted out of wearing an LGBTQ+ inclusive logo during a Pride Night game.
With Pride Month in full swing, many corporations and entertainment businesses have showcased their support with products and special events.
On 4 June, the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team hosted their 16th annual Pride Night in honour of their dedicated LGBTQ+ fans.
The night was filled with an array of queer-inclusive merchandise like flags and special Pride hats.
The game also featured Tampa Bay Rays players wearing Pride-themed caps and rainbow coloured logos on their uniform sleeves.
However, while most of the team showcased their support for the Pride-themed evening, a group of players declined to wear the LGBTQ+ inclusive uniform.
According to a report from The Tampa Bay Times, pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were amongst the bunch that opted out of participating.
In an interview with the aforementioned publication, Adam revealed that their decision was “faith-based.”
“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision. 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,” he told the Times.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 4, 2022
“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 or 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 behaviour.”
He then reiterated that the select group of players were “not judgemental” or “looking down” on the team’s LGBTQ+ fans.
“It’s just what we believe the lifestyle he’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold,” he continued. “But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”
Shortly after the game, sports fans and industry professionals took to social media to express their disappointment with the players decision.
One fan wrote: “Giving your players a platform to spew homophobic nonsense under the guise of their “faith” on pride night. Actually disgusting, Rays baseball.”
Jack Flaherty of the St Louis Cardinals also took to Twitter and called the decision an “absolute joke.”
Even though a few people opted out of wearing the logo, players like Kevin Keirmair gave insight into why they wanted to support the LGBTQ+ themed event.
“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,” he told the Times.
“…We just want everyone to feel welcomed and included and cheer us on. No matter what your views on anything are.”