TORONTO (AP) — Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass said Thursday he doesn’t believe an anti-LGBTQ+ social media post he shared last month was hateful.
The right-handed reliever also said he is “working hard” to educate himself, including meeting with the executive director of activist group Pride Toronto.
Bass is scheduled to catch the ceremonial first pitch from Toronto LGBTQ+ activist leZlie Lee Kam before Friday’s game against Minnesota as the Blue Jays begin their fourth annual Pride Weekend celebration.
Bass apologized before a May 30 game against Milwaukee, one day after sharing a post on his Instagram stories calling for anti-LGBTQ+ boycotts of Target and Bud Light over support they showed for the LGBTQ+ community. Both companies are dealing with fallout from those campaigns, which have included hostile and homophobic criticisms and calls from LGBTQ+ activists not to cave to anti-LGBTQ+ groups.
Bass has been booed by Toronto fans in his two home appearances since the apology.
“I totally get that,” Bass said. “I just want them to know that I’m working hard on myself, a lot of self-reflection.”
However, Bass later said he didn’t believe the post, which described the sale of LGBTQ+ merchandise as “evil” and “demonic,” should be considered hateful.
“I do not,” Bass said. “That’s why I posted it originally. When I look back at it, I can see how people would view it that way and that’s why I was apologetic.”
Bass said he chose to delete the post because “it was the right thing to do,” and because he didn’t want it to be a distraction to the team.
“But I stand by my personal beliefs,” Bass said, “and everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs, right? Also, I mean no harm towards any groups of people.
“My focus from the get-go should have been doing my job and being accepting of everyone’s decisions and views in life,” Bass added. “Through this process, I’ve learned that. Moving forward, I will definitely know better than to post my personal beliefs on my social media platforms.”
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins addressed the subject for the first time Thursday, shortly before Bass spoke.
While acknowledging that he was “personally hurt” by Bass’s post, Atkins said he accepted the apology the pitcher offered to him and manager John Schneider last month.
“I felt his apology and his accountability to be authentic or we would be talking about a different outcome, quite frankly,″ Atkins said. “That was absolutely necessary for us to be together with how strongly we feel about the progress that has been made by the Toronto Blue Jays in this community.
“It needs to continue,” Atkins added. “I don’t think you can ever do enough. We’ll stay true to that commitment to make this environment as inclusive as we possibly can.”
Workers were hanging rainbow flags inside Rogers Centre after Thursday’s win over Houston, preparing the stadium for Friday’s celebrations.
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