Bryan Ruby has made history as the first active professional baseball player who has come out publicly as gay, saying: “It’s about damn time for this.”
Ruby, who plays for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Oregon, told USA Today Sports that he had been contemplating the move for a while. He shared that “little 14-year-old me” was scared to come out because “I’m a baseball player who loved country music”.
But the athlete said he wanted to help others – especially future baseball players – feel like they don’t have to hide their identity to get ahead in sports.
“I’m not a hot-shot prospect,” Ruby said. “But today, you can’t find a single active baseball player who is out publicly.”
He continued: “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.”
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Ruby, 25, told USA Today that he had been “closeted for basically 10 years”, and it was a “struggle the whole time”. He recalled people telling him to “Be very cautious of who you tell” or that others “don’t need to know about your personal life” – which was an added pressure on the professional athlete.
“The best way to describe the hiding as an athlete is like you’re running with a weighted vest on,” he explained. “It’s on all day, and you can’t take it off. I’ve been gradually taking that weight off.”
Ruby said he told his close family and friends he was gay four years ago, and then his teammates this summer. So sharing his sexuality with the world was the last step in Ruby’s journey towards living as his authentic self publicly.
“But I don’t like the connotation to ‘coming out’,” Ruby added. “Because it’s more like ‘inviting in’.”
Bryan Ruby shared that he has been balancing his time as a professional athlete alongside his growing career as a country music songwriter.
He told USA Today that he first thought being gay was a “huge weakness” in the music industry before he realised he can “bring something different to the table”.
“Love songs don’t need to be gay or straight,” Ruby explained. “And I’ve been able to write my best songs by being authentic.”
Ruby is the latest gay pro athlete to come out this year following behind the NFL’s Carl Nassib and professional hockey player Luke Prokop. He also joins a host of openly LGBT+ athletes around the world who performed fantastically at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.