During Pride Night 2023, the Rays wanted to be unequivocal in their support for their LGBTQ fans. | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Talkin’ Gaysball where we’re certain that when Randy Arozarena eats pudding, he knows how to use a spoon.

When you think of the Tampa Bay Rays and Pride, you immediately picture five relief pitchers ripping rainbow logos off their jerseys two years ago. It was one of the most embarrassing days in the history of the franchise — and this is a team that once employed Jose Canseco.

The Rays knew this would follow them for the next few years. So during last year’s Pride Day, they put extra effort into trying to reconnect with our community. 

From displaying a giant rainbow-accented “Baseball is for EVERYONE” sign on the outfield wall for all of June to inviting fans to write letters of love to bringing in former umpire Dale Scott to throw out the first pitch, last year’s promotion was a much more well-intentioned success.

Now in 2024, the Rays have a chance to do something even more meaningful. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, fresh off spending $160 million on a failed presidential campaign is back on the attack against the LGBTQ community.

In a state facing rising sea levels, skyrocketing insurance rates, and cases of leprosy, DeSantis has decided to confront Florida’s biggest crisis: rainbow lights on bridges.

As part of an Orwellianly named “Freedom Summer” initiative, Florida Secretary of Transportation Jared W. Perdue tweeted, “Florida’s bridges will follow suit, illuminating in red, white, and blue from Memorial Day through Labor Day!”

Indeed, the only colors that the state of Florida will permit to light up its bridges will be red, white, and blue.

The “Freedom Summer” order arrived just in time for Pride Month and as The Washington Post noticed, the timing is almost certainly not a coincidence. Indeed, as The Tampa Bay Times’ Sharon Kennedy Wynne reported, DeSantis’ order was a response to a Manatee County Commission chair objecting to Pride month light displays on county bridges.

Because of this, St. Petersburg’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge will be forbidden from lighting up in rainbow colors next month for the first time since 2020. 

This is where the Rays come in. Last week, ILoveTheBurg’s Andrew Harlan confirmed that the Rays were still planning to light up the roof of Tropicana Field in rainbow colors during every night in June.

The Rays lighting up The Trop for Pride will still represent a show of allyship and defiance during a time when every LGBTQ person needs to see it.

St. Petersburg portrays itself as an LGBTQ-friendly oasis in a state where our community is constantly under assault. After years of living under DeSantis, LGBTQ Floridians are looking for allies who have their back during a time of crisis.

During the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence struggle last year,  I wrote, “Pride is a protest. So when a Pride event pisses off the right people, that means it’s doing its job.”

The rainbow-roofed Trop will serve as a prominent protest only a few miles from the bridge that must only be lit in patriotic colors. 

That’s how the Rays can rebound from their 2022 Pride debacle. Here’s hoping they have the courage to follow through with it all month.

MLB Thirst Trap of the Week

This week, I’m using this space to manifest a return to form for one of baseball’s most effervescent superstars. 

It’s been a rough start for Mariners energy source Julio Rodríguez as the dynamic center fielder recently found himself dropped to sixth in the order after a prolonged slump left him with just two home runs in 2024.

Baseball is flat out better when we get to see this megawatt smile every day.

A Seattle sight as breathtaking as the Space Needle.
Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Or when J-Rod gets to play MLB’s most joyful Aquaman…

If Jason Momoa had a Rookie of the Year and two Silver Sluggers.
Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to a lifetime streak of hotness, Julio has won Thirst Trap of the Week. Now it’s time for him to go on the kind of hot streak that wins him Player of the Month.