By Jase Peeples
Originally published on Advocate.com May 23 2013 4:35 PM ET
The world of men’s professional sports may have a history of being a homophobic hotbed, but San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt reveals that playing major league baseball broadened his horizons by bringing him to a city where he met LGBT people, and those experiences have helped him overcome homophobia.
In the years before he joined the Giants, Affeldt said he was so uncomfortable with LGBT people that he wouldn’t even explore San Francisco when he found himself visiting the city as an opposing player. ''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 told the Associated Press. ''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.''
The details of the 33-year-old athlete’s evolution are detailed in his new book, To Stir a Movement: Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball. ''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.''
Today, Affeldt says he’s thrilled to have re-signed with the Giants for an additional three years and now enjoys the relationships he has with gay friends and colleagues. “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.''