ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays’ organizational ethos of equality and inclusion extends to the LGBTQ+ community, as evidenced by Saturday’s 16th Pride Night celebration at Tropicana Field.
“Our Pride Nights continue to grow in both visibility and attendance,” said Rays President Matt Silverman. “By doing this, we’re extending an invitation not just for this game but for all of our games that the LGBTQ+ community is invited, welcomed and celebrated.”
In an effort to make their commitment more visible, the Rays decided this year to follow the example of the San Francisco Giants and add rainbow-colored logos to their Pride Night uniforms – the ” TB” on their caps and a burst on their right shirt. sleeves.
In doing so, the team learned that not all players wanted to be included. No exact breakdown was provided, but more than half of the players were expected to participate. Those who didn’t play didn’t necessarily have to reveal whether they chose to remove the exploded logo and/or wear the standard hat.
Reliever Jason Adam, chosen by team officials to speak on behalf of the players who withdrew, said it was mostly a matter of religious beliefs and not wanting to encourage the “behaviour” of club members. LGBTQ+ community.
“A lot of it comes down to faith, loving a faith-based decision,” Adam said. “So it’s a tough decision. Because at the end of the day we’ve all said what we want is for them to know that everyone is welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our body, I think a lot of guys decided it was just a lifestyle that maybe – not that they looked down on anybody or thought differently – it’s just that maybe we didn’t want to encourage it If we believe in Jesus, who encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would refrain from this behavior.
“Just like he encourages me as a heterosexual man to abstain from sex outside of marriage. It’s not different. It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking up. it’s just how we feel about the lifestyle he encouraged us to live, for our sake, not to hold back. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.
Rays officials would have preferred full participation, but also felt it was important to give players and staff choice, viewing it – somewhat semantically – as an “opt-in” exercise.
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The topic has sparked many conversations — team-wide, small group, and one-on-one — over the past few weeks. Players on both sides and management said it was a constructive exercise that did not create any divisions.
“I certainly hope not,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I think what it’s created is, like, what you’ve heard – lots of conversations and valuing the different perspectives inside the clubhouse, but really appreciating the community that we’re trying to support here.”
Veteran outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who planned to wear the cap and the burst logo, said inclusivity was important to him.
“It’s one of those things, my parents taught me to love everyone as they are, go live your life, whatever your preferences, be yourself,” Kiermaier said. “I can’t speak for everyone here, obviously, but it’s a family environment here on a big league ballpark. … We just want everyone to feel welcome and included and cheer us on. It doesn’t matter what you think of anything.
The Rays have supported LGBTQ+ efforts in several ways, including being the first professional sports team to sign an amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage and joining the “It Gets Better” campaign to fight bullying.
On Saturday, the Rays included members of the LGBTQ+ community in pre-game events, handed out mini-pride flags to all fans, gave away a special ticket package that included a hat designed by Chad Mize and donated $20,000 to Metro Inclusive Health, which provides various health and wellness services to the community. A flurry of rainbow color has been on the back wall of the stadium all year.
The team supports many other causes, such as racial equality, gun violence, military families, and mental health issues, especially for law enforcement.
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