A number of Tampa Bay Rays players decided not to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms as part of the team’s annual “Pride Night” on Saturday that recognized the LGBTQ community.
Reliever Jason Adam was among those who opted out, and said it was a “faith-based decision” for him.
“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision,” Adam said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “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.”
Earlier this year, Florida legislators passed a law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed, that forbids classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Critics argue that the law’s true intent is to marginalize LGBTQ people and their families.
Members of the LGBTQ community took part in pregame activities and mini LGBTQ flags were given out to fans.
Saturday’s attendance was 19,452, above the season average of 16,868. The turnout for Sunday’s series finale against the Chicago White Sox was 11,162.
Adam and fellow pitchers Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were among the players opting out of the special caps and jerseys, USA Today noted. Participation was not mandatory.
The team had a rainbow sunburst sleeve decal on the jersey sleeve, and several players removed the decal, according to USA Today.
Former Major League player Preston Wilson tweeted that the players involved contributed to a “special ignorance in sports on this topic.”
“Every person in MLB has at some point played with a homosexual teammate,” he wrote. “They have all cheered for their success on the field. They have all felt their pain when they struggled. They just didn’t know that player was LGBTQ.”
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash said after Sunday’s game that he doesn’t think some players declining to participate will negatively impact the clubhouse because discussions among the players over past few weeks were constructive and emphasized the value of differing perspectives.
“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.”