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Gay baseball player Bryan Ruby describes “hyper-masculine” locker room experience after coming out

Photo: Instagram/Ashley Evans

Pro baseball player Bryan Ruby has opened up about returning to his sport after very publicly coming out as gay last year, and the overwhelmingly positive response from his teammates.

Ruby came out in an interview with USA Today in September, and though he’d played in some games afterwards to close out the season, “a lot has changed over the past 10 months.”

In a first-person post on Outsports, Ruby said, “A quick scroll through my social media shows a whole lot of rainbow, and as they say: once you’re ‘out’, there’s no going back ‘in’ (the closet).”

He’d also since co-founded Proud To Be In Baseball, an advocacy and support group working to promote LGBTQ inclusion in the sport, and gone on a national tour to support the cause.

 

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For these reasons, Ruby was “pretty nervous” to rejoin the team — especially in the locker room.

“Walking back into the hyper-masculine world of the locker room last month, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about being treated differently by my teammates this season,” he said. “My guard was up as I stood at my locker, changing with the rest of the guys before my first practice back with the squad.”

As he tried to maintain a low profile, a starting pitcher turned and asked a surprisingly normal question: “So Ruby, how’s your boyfriend doing?”

He answered the question, and the fellow player started talking about his own girlfriend.

Related: Maybelle Blair, baseball player who inspired ‘A League of Their Own,’ comes out at 95

“That was something I never, ever thought could be possible to talk about so nonchalantly in the locker room,” Ruby said. “Now I know for the first time how good it feels to have a workplace conversation in which you don’t have to lie about your personal life. I felt so much validation in that moment. It was a gigantic relief.”

A few days later, another interaction surprised him even more. A fellow player who’d started a side hustle officiating weddings approached him and said, “Ruby! I need you to tell me EVERYTHING you know about gay weddings!”

The player was hoping to break into the gay wedding market.

“The moral of this story is simple, yet it is one that deserves repeating until there has been an out player on every single baseball team at every level of the game,” Ruby concluded. “There really is nothing more meaningful in a queer athlete’s journey than receiving the support of one’s teammates. It can be everything from life-saving to career-making.”