On September 2nd 2021, Bryan Ruby, who plays minor-league baseball for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Oregon, became the only active professional baseball player at any level to be publicly out. And his news appears to have sparked a closer friendship with one of his teammates, who is the son of two gay dads.
After decades of there being no actively-out male pro-sports players in the U.S., Bryan Ruby makes the third professional athlete to come out publicly this year, after Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib and Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop also came out as gay.
Ruby said he has been out to his family for about four years, and he came out to his teammates earlier this summer. In early September, he came out to the rest of the world.
When he decided to come out to his teammates on the Volcanoes, Ruby found an unexpected close connection with one of the other men on his team.
Gabriel Cotto, the Volcanoes' catcher, told USA SPORTS Today that he never would've guessed Ruby was gay. But once Ruby told him, Cotto immediately embraced him, because Cotto’s own father is gay.
"I grew up with two Dads,” Cotto said. “And we were just like a regular family.”
21-year-old Cotto, a Puerto Nican native, explained that as the child of gay dads, he got to witness firsthand the difficulties faced by many members of LGBTQ+ community and their families.
“I used to get bullied, and [get] in fights growing up because my pops is gay,” Cotton explained. “When Ruby told me, I just had so much respect for him. It made our friendship closer." In fact, Ruby has written a couple of chart-topping songs for artists like Xavier and Hayden Joseph.
Ruby told USA TODAY Sports that he knew he was gay from the age of 14, and wanted to show that there is gay representation in all professional sports, and in all kinds of music.
"Being closeted for basically 10 years, it was a struggle the whole time. I used to hate myself,” he told USA TODAY Sports. "I kept thinking about the little 14-year-old me, who was scared because I'm a baseball player who loved country music. Those are worlds where people like me are told they can't belong. I'm not a hot-shot prospect. But today, you can't find a single active baseball player who is out publicly. 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."