At least five Tampa Bay Rays players declined to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms over the weekend as part of the team’s annual effort to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride month.
The group of players, which included pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs, and Ryan Thompson, opted to peel off the rainbow logo and wear the standard Rays hat for the team’s 16th annual Pride Night celebration Saturday. The event coincided with a Chicago White Sox game.
The team declined to provide an exact breakdown of how many players declined to wear the patches and hats emblazoned with the LGBTQ+ pride flag, though more than half of the team appeared to be donning the rainbow garb at the game.
Adam was chosen by team officials to speak for the players who did not want to wear the pride-themed items. He told the Tampa Bay Times in an interview that the majority of the group based their decision on religious beliefs and not wanting to encourage what he described as LGBTQ+ “behavior.”
“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision,” Adam told the outlet. “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,” the pitcher continued. “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.”
Speaking at a post-game press conference Sunday evening, Rays manager Kevin Cash dismissed concerns that the players’ camaraderie would be impacted by the matter.
“First and foremost, I think the organization has done a really good thing to have Pride Night’s supporting our gay community to come out and have a nice night at the ballpark,” Cash said. “Impressed that our players have had those conversions and we want to support our players that choose to wear or choose not to wear to the best of our capabilities.”
He expressed similar sentiments on Saturday, claiming that the situation had sparked a series of team-wide discussions.
“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.”