Baseball fans call on Blue Jays to support LGBT youth with “You Can Play” video
- Blue Jays fan, Chris Papps, upset over Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar's gay slur and the team's response, starts petition gaining over 2,100 signatures over the past week.
- Escobar's suspension has been served, and on Thursday, he will be playing his first game back in Toronto since the incident.
TORONTO, ON – More than 2,100 people have signed onto a rapidly growing petition launched by Chris Papps, a lifelong Blue Jays fan and openly gay man, who has been rallying baseball fans and the LGBT community to ask the Blue Jays to support the LGBT community by creating a "You Can Play" video.
Papps launched the petition on Change.org after being shocked to see the Blue Jay shortstop Yunel Escobar play a game with a gay slur, "Tu eres Maricon," written on his face, translating to "You are a f----t" in English. Chris and other fans were even more disappointed by the Blue Jays’ response, when the team handed down a three game suspension.
"Escobar's action was another clear message to athletes in professional sports and kids in gym classes all over the world that it's ok to bully and degrade LGBT people," said Chris Papps, who launched the petition. "Demonstrated by over 2,100 supporters of the petition, fans and the general public are outraged. The Blue Jays must act."
Many sports teams and individuals have created "You Can Play" videos in which in athletes commit to ensuring equality, respect and safety in sports, regardless of an athlete’s sexual orientation. Other sports teams have also made similar videos. Last year, after fan Sean Chapin's petition on Change.org garnered 6,500 signatures, the San Francisco Giants made an 'It Gets Better' video supporting gay youth.
"The one positive that has come out of Escobar's action is the phenomenal opportunity the Jays team (both players and management) now have to be a strong voice in the movement to end homophobia in sports," said Papps. "By creating a You Can Play video, the Jays can help re-establish Toronto as the world leader in LGBT equality while introducing the MLB as a leader in welcoming out LGBT athletes to play."
Yunel Escobar's suspension has been served, and on Thursday he is eligible to play his first game back in Toronto since the incident. The team's General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos, has said that he will not feel sorry for the Escobar if he is greeted by boos from the hometown crowd.
"This is now the fourth sports related petition to blow up on Change.org in the past few weeks following the world's largest petition to get the hockey season started, a petition asking the Chicago Cubs to give Adam Greenberg one more at bat, and the National Football League referee petition," said Jordy Gold, Campaigns Director for Change.org. "Chris knows how much young kids, gay or straight, look up to their favourite players and is hoping that the Blue Jays can use this star power to make a real difference."
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Live signature count on the Blue Jays: 'Come Out' Against Homophobia petition:
Comments left by petition signers:
“This is Toronto, a city where we have shown the world we embrace diversity and provide a safe community for all our residents and visitors. The actions of this player, an ambassador of the city and the Toronto Blue Jays, to the international sports world has scarred our reputation and the message it sends to queer youth in sports is one of shame and ridicule. This cannot be pushed aside mildly without major recourse.” - Sean M., Toronto, Ontario
“The ‘apology’ from Yunel Escobar and the Blue Jays management seemed to me to be staged, insincere and totally insufficient, given the incredibly inappropriate action by Escobar. The Jays need to make an unequivocal, resolute statement that NOT ONLY do they not condone such actions, but they stand firmly against homophobia in sport. To do less is below their standing as a major sports team in the great city of Toronto.” - David B., Toronto, Ontario
“I have a gay son, who attempted suicide last year, when he was 17....Thank goodness, he survived, and he is determined more than ever, to make people realize that there is nothing wrong with being gay. It's a shame that some adults, especially those in a role model position, are sending the opposite message!” - Lucia A., Aurora, Ontario
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