Bryan Ruby Becomes Only Active Pro Baseball Player to Be Out as Gay

·3 min read

Bryan Ruby made history on Thursday, becoming the only active professional baseball player to come out as gay.

First reported by USA Today, the country singer and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes player is the only pro ballplayer, at any level, to be publicly out. "I kept thinking about the little 14-year-old me, who was scared because I'm a baseball player who loved country music," said Ruby. "Those are worlds where people like me are told they can't belong. I'm not a hot-shot prospect. But today, you can't find a single active baseball player who is out publicly. I want to help create a world where future generations of baseball players don't have to sacrifice authenticity or who they really are to play the game they love."

After “being closeted for basically 10 years,” Ruby came out to his friends, family, and teammates gradually. His public announcement came last. "But I don't like the connotation to, 'coming out,’” Ruby said. “Because it's more like 'inviting in.'"

Bryan Ruby is now the third openly gay active player in men’s professional sports — his public announcement coming only a few months after NHL player Luke Prokop’s coming out and NFL defensive end Carl Nassib, who recently became the first out player to sign to the NFL regular season roster. While other minor league ballplayers have come out as gay while active in the past, Ruby is now the sole out player in professional baseball.

“The best way to describe the hiding as an athlete is like you're running with a weighted vest on," Ruby said. "It's on all day and you can't take it off. I've been gradually taking that weight off."

Professional baseball has a long, pained history of homophobia — specifically with the use of homophobic slurs during games. Ruby’s teammates and coaches on the Volcanoes have voiced their support for the 25-year-old journeyman, sharing that Ruby’s courage in coming out to them will now allow them to help protect him from homophobia on the field.

"Bryan understands that until there's more people like him or Carl Nassib (out), voices matter," said Billy Bean, the MLB Vice President and special assistant to the commissioner, who also happens to be a mentor and close friend of Ruby’s.

“Each time somebody comes out in industries where queer people have not been historically represented in the mainstream, it helps to crumble the myth that you can't be yourself,” said Ruby. “But we're in the 2020s. It's about damn time for this… If I can help just one person from this, then that’s greater than any single hit or home run or win that I ever get on the field."

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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue