June is Pride Month, and the Tampa Bay Rays show their support for the LGBTQ+ community by hosting a Pride Night at Tropicana Field, which features players wearing special rainbow hats and a sleeve sticker on the field. But many Rays players decided not to wear any Pride outfits on Saturday, which was Pride Night at Tropicana Field.
According to Mark Tobkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays have made their Pride Knight costume optional, allowing players to make their own decision on whether or not they want to wear a rainbow hat and have a rainbow sticker on their sleeves. The majority of the team seemed to participate, but a group of players chose to wear their uniforms and hats.
It’s not known exactly how many players decided not to wear the Pride insignia, but Topkin reported that the group included bowlers Jason Adam, Galen Beaks, Brooks Raleigh, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson.
Only one player discussed the decision to withdraw from the uniform: Jason Adam, who was chosen by team officials to speak on behalf of the group. Adam’s explanation focused on religion, stating explicitly that the group did not want to “promote” the “lifestyle” of LGBT people because of their personal religious belief.
“A lot of that goes back to faith, to love decision based on religion,” Adam said via the Tampa Bay Times. “So it’s a tough decision. Because in the end we 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 decide it’s just a lifestyle maybe – not that they look down on anyone or think badly of anyone. Different – it’s just that we probably wouldn’t want to encourage it if we believed in Jesus, who encouraged us to live a lifestyle that abstains from this behaviour, just like [Jesus] He encourages me as a heterosexual man to abstain from sex outside of marriage. It’s no different.
It’s not judicial. It doesn’t look down. It’s just what we think the lifestyle has encouraged us to live, for our own good, not withheld. But then again, we love these men and women, care about them, and want them to feel safe and welcome here. “.
While it doesn’t appear that a player was chosen by team officials to speak on behalf of the players who wore the Pride Knight costume, Kevin Kirmayer discussed why he supports the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s one of those things, my parents taught me to love everyone as they are, and live your life, whatever your preferences, be you,” said Kiermayer. “I can’t speak for everyone who is here, of course, but this is a family-friendly environment here on a major league ballpark. … We just want everyone to feel welcome, included and encouraged. No matter what you think about anything.”
Choice triggered “conversations” and not division
Topkin reported that it was important for the Rays to make the Pride Night costume optional, although they hoped to be fully involved.
Rays’ decision to make Pride Night’s uniform optional could have sparked controversy at the club as not everyone clearly agreed to support the LGBTQ+ community. However, according to Topkin, the players and coaches said there were “numerous discussions” about the issue within the club, and it did not cause any disagreement among the players.
When asked if the talks caused any “dividing” at the club, manager Kevin Cash said the opposite had happened: the talks were productive and respectful.
“I certainly hope not,” said manager Kevin Cash. “I think what was created is, like, what I heard – a lot of conversations and assessment of different perspectives within the club but really appreciate the community we’re trying to support here.”