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St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jake Flaherty took issue with several Tampa Bay Rays players who decided against wearing Pride patches in support of the LGBTQ+ community for Saturday’s game as part of the team’s 16th annual Pride Night.
Rays pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson did not wear the Pride logo for the game against the Chicago White Sox over religious reasons, a move Flaherty slammed on social media.
“Absolute joke,” Flaherty wrote on Twitter in response to the Rays players’ decision.
Adam told the Tampa Bay Times that the athletes who abstained from Pride Night celebrations did not make their decision to be judgemental and that they love and care for the members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision,” Adam said. “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 explained.
Adam added, “It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down. It’s just what we believe the lifestyle [Jesus] 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,” he said.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said Sunday that he does not believe differing opinions will hurt the team, Sports Illustrated reported. He has previously said that the athletes have had conversations about the matter in recent weeks and have stressed the importance of “valuing the different perspectives.”
And veteran Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who wore the Pride patch, told the Times that creating an “environment of inclusivity” was of high importance for him.
“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,” Kiermaier said. “I can’t speak for everyone who’s in here, obviously, but this is a family-friendly environment here at a big-league ball field … We just want everyone to feel welcomed and included and cheer us on. No matter what your views on anything are.”