Tampa Pride leader slams Rays players for refusing to wear LGBT+ logo on uniforms: ‘Don’t hide behind religion’

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A minority of Tampa Bay Rays players chose not to wear a Pride logo (USA TODAY Sports)
A minority of Tampa Bay Rays players chose not to wear a Pride logo (USA TODAY Sports)

The president of Tampa Pride has hit out at five players for the Tampa Bay Rays who refused to wear LGBT+ colours on their uniforms at the weekend and said the pitchers were “hiding behind religion’.

At least five members of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team refused to wear Pride logos on their uniforms on Sunday, when the Major League Baseball (MLB) side was holding an annual “Pride Night” celebration at Tropicana Field for Pride Month.

Tampa Pride president Carrie West said the five players who removed the Pride logo from their uniforms during the “Pride Night” baseball game were ‘hiding behind their religion’ and had “shamed” the club’s work supporting the LGBT+ community in a statement to The Independent.

“The fact that Tampa Bay Rays have a Pride Night is because they have a very high LGBTAQ fan base,” he said on Monday. “The Tropicana Field is right in the heart of the St Petersburg Gay Community with gay bars, businesses, restaurants, and retail all around the stadium.”

Mr West, who said Tampa’s LGBT+ community “does not court” the baseball’s team players and that the side needed to show it supported its local fans, said the rejection by Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson was a “snub”.

“It just so happens that the LGBTAQ community is a very large fan base in following your franchise and we are honoured and celebrate this one night during PRIDE Month,” argued Mr West.

“To not say Thank You and get snubbed from the five players for Your Support and getting the $$$ for top salary dollars is truly a SHAME to be reckoned with! DO NOT HIDE BEHIND RELIGION! YOU HAVE ALREADY SHOWN YOUR COLORS.”

Choosing to speak on behalf of the players who refused to wear the Pride logos, Jason Adam told the Tampa BayTimes: “A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision”.

“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,” he said.

“Will someone please show me the Bible passage that says ‘Thou shalt not wear a rainbow on thou’s clothing’ “, wrote LGBT+ sports journalist Cyd Zeigler, who was among those on social media to criticise the decision by a minority of players.

He continued: “The club has placed itself at ground zero of a political battle despite widespread LGBTQ support on the team.”

The Independent has approached Adam and the Tampa Bay Rays for comment, but has not received a reply.

In a statement on Sunday, Tampa Bay Rays president Matt Silverman said: “Our Pride Nights continue to grow both in terms of visibility and participation” and that “By doing this, we extend an invitation not just for this game but for all of our games that the LGBTQ+ community is invited, welcomed and celebrated.”

The Pride Night celebration was followed by a defeat for the Tampa Bay Rays, who were playing the Chicago White Sox.

The Independent is the official publishing partner of Pride in London 2022 and a proud sponsor of NYC Pride.