December 12, 2022 — Athlete Ally responded today to news that former Cleveland Guardians and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher TJ House has come out as gay, making him the third-ever former Major League Baseball player to do so. House, who joins fellow out gay former MLB players Billy Bean and Glenn Burke, came out through an emotional Facebook post describing his journey as a closeted pro athlete, the critical importance of the recently-passed Respect for Marriage Act, and his engagement to his fiancé Ryan Neitzel.
“To be the third MLB player in the history of the sport to come out says volumes both about TJ’s courage and how much work is still needed to make baseball a welcoming and inclusive space for gay and bisexual ball players,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “We will not see active, professional athletes in men’s sports coming out unless they know they will be safe and supported when doing so. T.J’s announcement serves as a reminder that we need more education, more understanding and more visible allyship in baseball and beyond if we are going to reduce the barriers preventing men from coming out in professional sports.”
“I was 23 years old and living out my childhood dream playing professional baseball in Cleveland,” House wrote in his Facebook post. “But even with all the money, fancy cars, nice clothes and a little tiny bit of fame, I would go home every night wishing I could change. Deep down I wanted something more, I wanted to be loved not for what I did, but who I was.
I know most would say, “you never really gave me a chance to love you for who you are because we didn’t know”. You’re right, I gave very few that chance. I’ve sat in many rooms, listened to conversations around me, sat in pews at church, and read posts that have led me to act otherwise. It’s hard listening to people talk about you without them knowing that the words they are saying are directed at you. Today’s passage of the Respect for Marriage Act protects us to have the same rights and opportunities that each of you have. It protects the same benefits. It makes us equal to you. It allows Ryan Neitzel and I to come together and create something beautiful.”
In a statement to Outsports, out gay former MLB player and MLB senior Vice President of DEI Billy Bean said: “This is a great day for the league and baseball.”
TJ has shown incredible courage, and his story sends the message to closeted players, coaches and fans that they deserve to be their full selves in the sport they love. He also underscores how critical the Respect for Marriage Act is in protecting the rights of all people to love who they love and be protected from discrimination.”