Several players for the Tampa Bay Rays decided not to wear rainbow-colored emblems on their jerseys over the weekend as part of the team’s yearly attempt to commemorate LGBT Pride Month. For the team’s 16th annual Pride Night celebration on Saturday, players Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs, and Ryan Thompson chose to remove the rainbow emblem and wear the traditional Rays cap.
Although more than half of the squad seemed to be wearing rainbow apparel at the game, the team declined to offer a breakdown of how many players declined to wear the patches and caps with the LGBT pride flag. Team administrators picked Adam to represent the players who did not want to wear the pride-themed clothing. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, he said the majority of the group decided not to wear the pride-themed items because of religious views and a desire not to support what he called LGBT “behavior.”
Adam explained that “A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision. 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.” He continued, “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.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash rejected fears that the incident would impair the players’ camaraderie at a post-game press conference on Sunday evening. He stated, “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. 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.”