Five Tampa Bay Rays players tore off the rainbow pride logos from their uniforms before their Pride Night game against the Chicago White Sox. The players cited their “Christian faith” to justify not participating in the team’s gesture of solidarity with the LGBTQI community and fans for Pride month. 

The occasion was the 16th Pride Night celebration at Tropicana Field. The team management decided to add rainbow-coloured logos to the ‘TB’ on the caps and the sunburst on the players’ jersey sleeves. 

For the Rays, the Pride Night was a continuation of its pro-LGBTQI stances in the past – it was reportedly the first pro-sports team to sign an amicus curiae brief in the US Supreme Court to support marriage equality. 

Rays Players Tear Off Pride Logos

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Rays president Matt Silverman said that the organisation wanted to “extend an invitation not just for this game but for all of our games that the LGBTQ+ community is invited, welcomed and celebrated”. 

While more than half the players enthusiastically donned the rainbow pride uniforms, according to The Tampa Bay Times not everyone welcomed the initiative. Pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson removed the sunbursts from their jerseys and opted to wear the team’s standard caps without the rainbow logos. 

“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision. So it’s a hard decision,” said Adam, who had been chosen by the group to issue the statement. 

Players Say They Did Not Want To “Encourage” The Behaviour

The players justified their stand saying that they did not want to “encourage” the “behaviour” of the LGBTQI community. 

“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.”

The players claimed that they were not being judgmental or admonishing the LGBTQI community.  “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. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”

Other team members who chose to wear the logos said it was important for them to show their solidarity with the LGBTQI. community. “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,” said player Kevin Kiermaier.

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