TJ House, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays from 2014-17, took to his Facebook page Thursday and penned a heartfelt and emotional public coming-out message while announcing his engagement to his boyfriend.
Inspired by the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, House used the opportunity to announce his engagement to fiancé, Ryan Neitzel.
“[He] challenges me daily to become a better person,” House wrote in his public-facing Facebook post. “To live life authentically. One who I never deserved but [am] blessed to have.”
Since the publication of the Facebook post and Outsports’ story, House and Neitzel were invited to the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act at the White House.
The full post from House:
House, 33, is the third former MLB player to come out publicly — following Glenn Burke and Billy Bean — and the first to do so in 23 years.
“This is a great day for the league and baseball,” Bean, MLB’s senior vice-president of DEI, told Outsports.
Since Outsports posted the original story on Saturday, there has been an outpouring of support for House on social media and the media, with coverage coming from NBC, Sports Illustrated, TMZ, People magazine, the Advocate and more.
Ruminating on his personal coming-out journey, House said in his post that he’s “struggled his entire life with being comfortable in his own skin.” The left-hander reflected about his difficulties with accepting his true self while carving out a career in MLB.
While House loved his time in the game, he eventually realized he needed to find emotional fulfillment off of the field.
In one of the most striking passages of his post, House says baseball allowed him to avoid introspection.
“I have been loved my whole life for what I did as a career, and it carried me for the longest time,” he wrote. “Eventually, though, it’s a bandage that covers a wound that needs fresh air to heal…Shame has kept me quiet all these years, but Love has finally set me free.”
While most of us can’t begin to conceive of what it’s like to possess the skills of a major league pitcher, House using his career as a way to avoid addressing his sexuality is something with which many LGBTQ people can identify.
Outsports first saw the news of House’s announcement on the Cup Of Coffee Substack of Craig Calcaterra. Outsports reached out to House and spoke briefly on Friday.
House has been posting photos of his boyfriend and him on Instagram for several years. A recent post, celebrating “eight turns around the sun” shows House in his Blue Jays uniform with Neitzel.
Describing his journey, House says he heard conversations in his personal life that made him hesitant to come out.
“It’s hard listening to people talk about you without them knowing the words they are saying are directed at you,” he said.
Despite having endured homophobia as he navigated his baseball career, the comments on his public Facebook post — which has garnered hundreds of “likes” — indicated that House has the support of his peers.
Fellow former Indians pitcher Austin Adams wrote: “Happy for you, my man!” Adams is still an active player, a free agent who played the last three seasons with the San Diego Padres.
Former Yankees and Atlanta Braves reliever Danny Burawa added, “Happy and proud of you, my brother. Best wishes in the future.”
Retired minor league starter Ryan Tatusko posted, “Congrats, buddy!! It’s great to see you happy!”
During his MLB career, House pitched 119 innings, had a 5-7 record (5-3 in 2014) with 22 starts and a 4.44 ERA. Before his professional career he played for Picayune Memorial High School in Mississippi. He was drafted by Cleveland out of high school in the 16th round of the 2008 MLB Draft. He played minor league baseball from 2018 to 2020, playing in part in the Chicago White Sox minor league system.
While House got to live a baseball dream in parts of four seasons in the big leagues, now that he’s come out to the world as his authentic self, it’s clear that the best part of his life’s journey has just begun.
We wish these two guys many years of happiness together.
Be sure to check out the Proud To Be In Baseball non-profit, which aims to advance LGBTQ inclusion in the sport.
You can follow TJ House on Instagram.
Story updated Dec. 12.