First Out Pro Baseball Player Bryan Ruby Reflects on Acceptance, Announces Support Group

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday October 13, 2021

In an op-ed piece written for USA Today, groundbreaking out pro baseball player Bryan Ruby says that he's never felt so accepted, or played so well, since he shed the burden of the closet. Now he's eager to share that sense of support with others. He's started a new support group, Proud To Be In Baseball.

"From the dusty ballfields of Chile, Germany, and Guatemala, to (most recently) the independent leagues of Oregon, I felt like I've seen as much of the world as a 25-year-old could possibly see," the young, accomplished athlete (who has also penned chart-topping country-western songs) wrote in the piece.

"Yet, nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced on September 2," Ruby, who now plays for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, recalled of the day he came out publicly in comments he made to USA Today. "For the first time, I was going to tell my story publicly and come out as a gay baseball player and country musician."

Ruby related how when the piece was published, his phone "went nuclear."

"I got so many notifications that I had to lock my phone in my truck and go walk around a state park for a few hours to level out," the athlete added.

Gratifyingly, what he was hearing were messages of love and acceptance. "I received more messages of support in one day than I have in my entire life."

Back in the locker room, "I laced up my rainbow shoelaces," finding the same support from his teammates as from the world at large.

What's more, once Ruby hit the field that night, "I played the best baseball of my life. Not only did I crush the hardest-hit ball of my career less than 72 hours after coming out, but my batting average improved as well."

"While it couldn't have gone better for me," Ruby added, "many LGBTQ athletes aren't as lucky." Ruby reiterated thoughts he had expressed when he first came out: That pro athletes and LGBTQ+ youth alike need to hear stories like his, and see fearless representation.

"I thought about Kieran Lovegrove, the other pro ballplayer who told me he'd seen my story and has since come out publicly as bisexual," Ruby reflected. "I thought about all the young ballplayers like us around the world."

It was after Ruby "stopped at the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City," where he saw "a quote on the wall by trailblazing black ballplayer Larry Doby" that he came up with the idea for the new support group, which, Ruby said, is "born out of a need for LGBTQ representation at the ballpark."

Doby said this: "I knew being accepted was going to be hard, but I knew I was involved in a situation that was going to bring opportunities to other Blacks."

Proud to Be in Baseball is quickly gaining traction, Ruby wrote. "Already, we have identified close to three dozen people who have joined our cause."

"I hope our grassroots effort will one day create an environment where a Major League star is willing to come out," the history-making ballplayer added.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.