Metro Weekly

Former Major League Baseball Pitcher T.J. House Comes Out as Gay

Former Cleveland Indian, Toronto Blue Jay announced his engagement on the day that Congress passed the Respect for Marriage Act.

TJ House (right) with fiance Ryan Neitzel – Photo: Instagram.

Former professional pitcher T.J. House recently came announced his engagement to his boyfriend Ryan Neitzel, becoming the third former Major League Baseball player to come out as gay after leaving the league.

House, who played for four seasons for the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays, made the engagement announcement in a Dec. 8 Facebook post, in which he not only came out but acknowledged the personal struggles he had with his sexual orientation, with opening up to others, and finding love.

“I’ve struggled my entire life with being comfortable in my own skin. I have purposefully distanced myself from people for the sake of trying to protect myself,” House wrote. “It’s disheartening how one simple thing can change an individual’s opinion of you in a matter of seconds. It has taken me years to wake up every morning and tell myself that you are loved for you, the one that’s deep down inside that you’ve never truly let out.

“I’ve been loved my whole life for what I did as a career, and it carried me for the longest time. Eventually though, it’s a bandage that covers a wound that needs fresh air to heal. You have to rip it off at some point if you truly want to get better. Shame has kept me quiet all these years, but Love has finally set me free,” he added.

While House acknowledges that he gained societal acceptance from his job as a professional baseball player, he says that deep down, he found himself unfulfilled wanted to be loved and acceptance for his true identity, “to be loved not for what I did, but who I was.”

“I know most would say, ‘You never really gave me a chance to love you for who you are because we didn’t know.’ You’re right, I gave very few that chance. I’ve sat in many rooms, listened to conversations around me, sat in pews at church, and read posts that have led me to act otherwise,” House wrote. “It’s hard listening to people talk about you without them knowing that the words they are saying are directed at you.”

House’s coming out post, which was prompted by the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act by the U.S. House of Representatives that very same day, also explained the purpose of the bill, which ensures the federal government will recognize same-sex nuptials as valid, and was signed into law earlier this week by President Joe Biden. 

“Today’s passage of the Respect for Marriage Act protects us to have the same rights and opportunities that each of you have. It protects the same benefits. It makes us equal to you. It allows Ryan Neitzel and I to come together and create something beautiful. It gives me the confidence to get engaged to the person I love (he said Yes!), to marry them. I have a wonderful fiancé, who challenges me daily to become a better person. To live life authentically. One who I never deserved but [am] blessed to have,” House wrote. “I’m finally healing, and days like today are what helps me continue to grow into the person I’ve been all along, one I’ve locked up for 20 plus years. Today I am loved.”

On Tuesday, House was in attendance at the signing ceremony for the Respect for Marriage Act on the South Lawn of the White House. In a Facebook post, he shared pictures of him and Neitzel at the ceremony, writing: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think today was possible. Thank you President Joe Biden for allowing me to be a part of something so special.”

House is the third former MLB player to come out as gay following Glenn Burke, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s in the 1970s; and Billy Bean, an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres in the 1980s and 1990s, who was appointed Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion in 2016 and currently serves as senior vice president and special assistant to the commissioner of the league. 

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