A number of Tampa Bay Rays players opted out of wearing rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms as part of the team’s annual ‘Pride Night’ on Saturday that recognized the community LGBTQ.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash addressed the issue after Sunday’s game and said the discussions between the players over the past few weeks have been constructive and underline the value of different perspectives.
“First and foremost, I think the organization has done a really good thing for Pride Night to support our gay community to get out there and have a great night at the ballpark,” Cash said. “Impressed that our players had these conversations and we want to support our players who choose to wear or not wear to the best of our abilities.”
Reliever Jason Adam was among those to step down and said it was a “faith-based decision.”
“So it’s a tough decision,” Adam told the Tampa Bay Times. “Because at the end of the day, we’ve all said what we want is for them to know that everyone is welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided it’s just a lifestyle that maybe – not that they look down on someone or think differently – it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus , who encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would refrain from this behavior.
“…It’s not a judgement. It’s not looking down. It’s just how we feel about the lifestyle he encouraged us to live, for our sake, not to hold back. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were the players not wearing the rainbow logos.
Rays center back Kevin Kiermaier decided to wear the logos and offered a different perspective.
“It’s one of those things, my parents taught me to love everyone as they are, go live your life, whatever your preferences, be yourself,” Kiermaier told The Times. “I can’t speak for everyone here, obviously, but it’s a family environment here on a big league ballpark… We just want everyone to feel welcome and included and cheer us on. It doesn’t matter what you think of anything.
Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers passed a law, which state Governor Ron DeSantis signed, that bans classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through the third year. Critics argue that the real intent of the law is to marginalize LGBTQ people and their families.
Members of the LGBTQ community took part in pre-game activities and mini LGBTQ flags were handed out to fans on Saturday. Attendance was 19,452, above the season average of 16,868. Attendance for Sunday’s series finale against the Chicago White Sox was 11,162.