Robbie Ross, a pitcher with the Texas Rangers, appeared in a recent NOH8 campaign photo shoot with his wife, Brittany. The NOH8 campaign looks to end homophobia and promote marriage equality through a photographic silent protest. The photos show subjects with duct tape covering their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced. In addition, subjects have "NOH8" paint on one cheek.
The significance of this particular photo is that the couple wanted to openly display their religious beliefs all while showing support for the LGBT community. In the photo, Robbie is sporting a bracelet saying "In Jesus name I play". He also has on display two tattoos on his wrists featuring Biblical verses; Mark 9:23, which reads: "All things are possible to him who believes"; and James 4:10 which reads: "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."
Robbie expressed in an interview with Outsports at the NOH8 campaign studio in Burbank, California, that being in sports means being around various kinds of people. Through his religious beliefs, he and his wife believe that as Christians they should love everyone and express love to everyone. The couple felt that participating in the NOH8 campaign would be the best way to convey their beliefs and show their support. During the interview with Outsports, Brittany added:
"We're all human, and we can all take things from the Bible and twist them however we want. You can basically take a verse from the Bible and say it's OK to beat your wife, but the world says that's not OK, so that's what we go with. And I think the world is saying that gay people in the community are OK. Jesus came to love people. He never persecuted anybody. There are a lot of confusing things in the Bible, and I think if anything is confusing and it promotes hate, then you're taking it the wrong way."
She continued with saying, "being gay shouldn't just be tolerated, it should be celebrated that people can embody who they truly are."
Before going to the photo shoot, Robbie talked to his team mates about what he was planning to do. He received positive encouragement while some questioned why he would want to do so given his religious background. He responded by saying that the Bible encourages people to not place judgment on others. Before we judge others, we need to evaluate our own lives. During this evaluation, we may notice that we are committing sins that we are actually unaware of. He emphasized the fact that we need to embrace everyone, including their difference, and just love everyone.
To have a prominent figure in MLB join forces in ending homophobia and promote equality is huge for the sports world. Other athletes and sports administrators that have joined the movement are Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, former U.S. Junior Men's Champion Nicholas LaRoche, NBA Executive Rick Welts are just to a few of the men and women to name. Colleges and University athletic programs have also taken the initiative to start the conversation about LGBT issues within sports. Inclusion at the level of professional and collegiate sports is slow to come. Sports have the stigma of being masculine and tough, and therefore the discussion of LGBT issues has not been as popular. It's not something that will happen overnight but it will take acts such as Robbie and Brittany Ross to begin to change the conversation and create inclusion.