Bryan Ruby envisions a better world of inclusion and authenticity in baseball, so he's sharing his story to be part of the change.
Ruby is the latest professional male athlete this summer to talk so openly about being gay by speaking with USA Today Sports' Scott Gleeson. He is the only active professional baseball player at any level to be publicly out, per USA Today.
"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," Ruby told USA Today Sports.
His story follows those of Carl Nassib in the NFL and Luke Prokop in the NHL.
Ruby speaks openly about being gay
Ruby, 25, plays for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. They were a Class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants until MLB recreated its minor league structure for fewer teams. They're now part of the Mavericks Independent League with three other teams near Salem, Oregon.
He is also a country music songwriter who has written hits for Hayden Joseph and Xavier Joseph. He told his family and friends he was gay four years ago and his teammates last summer, he told USA Today. He calls it "inviting in" rather than "coming out."
"I kept having people tell me, 'Be very cautious of who you tell' or 'They don't need to know your personal life,'" he said. "The best way to describe the hiding as an athlete is like you're running with a weighted vest on," he said. "It's on all day and you can't take it off. I've been gradually taking that weight off."
Ruby said older coaches have been homophobic, urging him to keep it secret or be with a woman to keep up the facade. Teammate have used gay slurs, he said, and opponents would purposely use it as intimidation.
Billy Bean connection
Billy Bean came out as gay after his retirement in the 1990s and is now the league's vice president and special assistant to the commissioner. He remains a confidant for MLB players who are not publicly out yet, including Ruby.
Ruby wrote a letter to Bean in 2018, though he said he didn't put his last name or address on it. The response is framed on Ruby's wall and he wears cleats gifted to him by Bean. The laces are rainbows.
"The beauty of it for Bryan is that he's not playing to only become a big leaguer," Bean told USA TODAY Sports. "He's playing because he loves the game. I imagine he'll be proud of himself when he's 40 years old in his country music career knowing what he's doing for baseball. I couldn't be prouder, and I definitely think Bryan's story is a stepping stone in the right direction."
Dodgers player Glenn Burke was not open about his sexuality to the media, but his teammates knew he was gay when he played in the 1970s.