Tampa Bay Rays baseball players face backlash after refusing to wear Pride logo on uniforms
A number of players on American baseball team the Tampa Bay Rays have refused to wear a Pride logo on their uniforms due to their religious beliefs.
While the majority of the Florida team did wear the rainbow-coloured logos at the annual “Pride Night” event on Saturday (4) June, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson decided to opt out.
Talking to the newspaper, Adam said: “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 behaviour.
“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.”
Jack Flaherty of the St Louis Cardinals in Missouri, however, tweeted Adam’s quote saying that his excuse was an “absolute joke”.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 4, 2022
The Tampa Bay Rays, based in Tampa, did include many supporters of the logo, however, with player Kevin Kiermaier saying they “want everyone to feel welcomed”.
Kiermaier, who did wear the Pride logo, told the Tampa Bay Times: “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.
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“I can’t speak for everyone who’s in here, obviously… We just want everyone to feel welcomed and included and cheer us on. No matter what your views on anything are.”
The Tampa Bay Rays are based in Florida, a state which recently passed its infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts discussion of LGBTQ+ issues and culture in classrooms.
The bill has been torn apart by celebrities, politicians and the LGBTQ+ community, with US president Joe Biden condemning it in February.
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community – especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill – to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” he said.
“I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”