Jeremy Affeldt is a relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, but before moving to the Bay Area he was so homophobic than when he came as a visiting player, he would not leave his hotel room except to go to stadiums. Now, he calls the city "unbelievable."
Affeldt writes about his transformation in a new book, ''To Stir a Movement:'' Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball," and talked to the Associated Press:
''I didn't leave my hotel room when we came to play the Giants or A's. I didn't want to go out or see anyone,'' he said. ''There was a profession of being wrong. I've come to that from a deep angle. I'll probably get a lot of flak from the church for it, but I believe I'm right.'' ...
''There's a chapter in there of me coming to San Francisco and being hesitant because I had homophobia, and now I don't,'' he said. ''I see more San Francisco as a city of love and a city of passion and compassion. It's unbelievable this city. To see that and to have my heart change as a city I didn't ever want to come to, to a city that I'm so thankful I'm going to be part of for a long time, it talks about that. For me, it was an awesome deal.''
He attributes his homophobia to his religion and being sheltered growing up in Spokane, Wash. His attitudes started to change, he said, in 2008 while playing in Cincinnati. There, a gay Starbucks employee befriended his son.
'I'm going to look at a group of people who maybe don't share the same views as I do morally but the reality is there is no difference, none,'' he said. ''They're human beings, and I'm going to love on them just as God told me to love all human beings. I'm not going to sit there and worry about all that other garbage. It's a matter of love your neighbor as yourself.''
The book is not just about his homophobia, but it is the part that caught my eye. Affeldt's conversion on the issue of gay people shows once again how being exposed to diversity and having an open mind can change how one views the world. I hope his book is a big success.