Sports franchises around the country have made public shows of support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month. The Rays are no different—though apparently, not every player on the team is eager to participate.
The team donned a rainbow-colored logo on Saturday as part of the team’s 16th annual Pride Night celebration. But at least five players—pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson—opted not to wear the logo, instead peeling off the rainbow version on their jerseys and wearing the standard hat, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
Adam, who’s in his first season with the Rays, was chosen to speak on behalf of the group that decided not to wear the logos, and called the decision “faith-based.”
“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision,” Adam said. “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.”
Topkin reports that the topic inspired numerous conversations within the clubhouse, though manager Kevin Cash was hopeful that it wouldn’t be the cause of any internal friction.
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“I certainly hope not,” Cash said. “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.”
Adam insisted that the decision by the players to not wear the logo was not judgmental and that the group wanted people from the LGBTQ+ community to feel “welcome here.”
“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,” Adam said. “But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”
Longtime Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who did wear the rainbow logo, said creating an environment of inclusivity was a priority for him.
“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,” Kiermaier said. “I can’t speak for everyone who’s in here, obviously, but this is a family-friendly environment here at a big-league ball field … We just want everyone to feel welcomed and included and cheer us on. No matter what your views on anything are.”