ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays’ organizational philosophy toward equality and inclusiveness extends toward the LGBTQ+ community, as evidenced by Saturday’s 16th Pride Night celebration at Tropicana Field.
“Our Pride Nights continue to grow both in terms of visibility and participation,” Rays president Matt Silverman said. “By doing this, we extend an invitation not just for this game but for all of our games that the LGBTQ+ community is invited, welcomed and celebrated.”
In an effort to make their commitment 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.
In doing so, the team learned that not all players wanted to be included. No exact breakdown was provided, but well more than half the players appeared to participate. Pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were among those who did not, electing to peel off the burst logo and wear the standard hat.
Adam, chosen by team officials to speak for the players who opted out, said it was primarily a matter of religious beliefs and not wanting to encourage the “behavior” of those in the LGBTQ+ community.
“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.
“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.”
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.
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Source: Tampa Bay Times