The Chicago White Sox hold their annual Pride Night on Thursday for the opener of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Sox closer Liam Hendriks, who raised a pride flag at Guaranteed Rate Field along with his wife, Kristi, said it’s important for every organization in baseball to show its support of the LGBTQ+ community.
While many MLB teams already have events in conjunction with Pride Month, the Tampa Bay Rays recently made national news when their team-initiated Pride Night celebration turned into a controversy about whether players should need to wear caps and jerseys with the rainbow-colored logo. Five Rays pitchers — Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson — removed the rainbow logo and wore their regular caps.
Adams told the Tampa Bay Times the players decided not to wear the rainbow logos for religious reasons, saying “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.”
Hendriks in an interview Tuesday declined to address the Rays controversy, saying “everyone is entitled to their own opinions.” Sox players will not be asked to wear logos on their caps or jerseys, a team spokesman said.
Is it important for the entire team to show its support?
“Not necessarily the whole team,” Hendriks replied. “But the more people you get involved at certain points, you’re trying to move the ball forward every single year, whether it be one player this year and another next year. …
“I know there are a lot of players that are very open to the concept of doing anything. They just aren’t sure whether they want to be (vocal). They’re all on board with supporting it. They just aren’t sure whether they can go out and be that kind of voice, to put their face out there.
“I want to get us to a society where you can say whatever and have your own opinions, as long as it’s not hateful toward an entire demographic.”
Hendriks not only is comfortable being the voice of the Sox celebrating Pride Night — which they have done since 2018 — but said he spoke with the front office about being involved in it before signing here as a free agent.
“It wasn’t a demand by any means, and it wasn’t a make-or-break decision,” he said of the discussion. “It was something like, ‘Hey, if you don’t have (Pride Night), this is a conversation we’re going to have to have. And if you do have one, sweet, how do I become more involved?’
“I want to be, not the ambassador, but I want to make sure there is a player’s name attached to this and we can move forward and try to get every team to have a single guy, or group of guys, that can put their face on this (event) and say ‘This is what we’re doing in our clubhouse.’ That’s what we’re aiming for.”
The Hendrikses also donated South Slydah Society-branded Pride flags to the Sox event — they will be distributed for free in Section 154. Liam Hendriks said he has been involved in the cause for many years and confirmed he has received hateful comments on social media for supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
He called them “cowards” who would never say the same comments to his face.
“Everyone tends to be a little (bit of) keyboard warriors when they have no repercussions,” Hendriks said. “It is what it is. The fact is the hate I get for being an ally is very limited compared to what some other people may be getting if they’re in the spotlight or in the limelight going through this ordeal of going out and being true to themselves.
“That’s something that shouldn’t happen in life. But unfortunately it’s a lot of judgment without knowing the person. It’s a lot of hate and vitriol about a certain lifestyle. I don’t think anyone is perfect in this world. The fact they can judge someone else for who they are is damaging to an entire population.”