TORONTO — Anthony Bass says he has a better understanding of the issues facing the 2SLGBTQ+ community and realizes he needs to be more sensitive and accepting after a meeting with Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste.
The two spoke Tuesday in a Rogers Centre office, the next step for the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander after he apologized for sharing a social media post supporting anti-2SLGBTQ+ boycotts of Target and Bud Light. Their conversation highlighted Modeste’s story, touched on the work Pride Toronto does around the city, why it’s necessary, and the impact someone with Bass’ profile can have by platforming such a video.
“It definitely shed light on the Pride community for me,” Bass said during an interview with Sportsnet and The Canadian Press. “I have my personal beliefs, but I understand that everyone’s free to feel and think the way they want and in being accepting, welcoming and making people feel comfortable to make a decision in their lives. To be more accepting of it definitely was something I self-reflected on and realized that I need to be better at. This whole process helped me realize that. Obviously I’m not glad about the post, but in a sense I’m glad it helped me make better decisions about what I say and do moving forward on social media and how I conduct myself around others.”
Bass, 35, initially posted the video to his Instagram account that now has 36,000 followers “because it lined up with my Christian beliefs and values. That’s why I liked it, as well.” The message of “big corporations targeting young children was what really struck home for me, being a father of two little ones. … But I spoke with Sherwin about that and he gave me some clarity about that topic and we moved on from it.”
For context, the boycott campaign against Bud Light is rooted in the beer company’s partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, while Target drew criticism for a Pride-themed apparel line that included children’s clothing and books.
As a result of the backlash he experienced “from a majority of people here in Toronto” and the subsequent conversation with Modeste, Bass said he recognized a “need to be more sensitive … and not to cause any type of burden or strain on someone maybe trying to make a decision with their life that some people might not be accepting of.”
Modeste explained to him “how a lot of people obviously are very uncomfortable coming out and making that big decision in their lives and how many people end up taking their lives because of that if they don’t have that support group to help them feel comfortable,” said Bass. “It definitely made me think back about my post. Obviously, being a public figure, it might not go over well with someone that’s trying to feel comfortable in making a decision for their life. For that reason, I definitely apologize not only to Sherwin, but also knowing that I could have kept those thoughts and feelings to myself, not knowing that it’s a very difficult decision for a lot of people to come out.”
An important litmus test for Bass’ attempts at atonement comes Friday and Saturday, when the Blue Jays host their fourth annual Pride Weekend. Bass offered to catch Friday’s ceremonial first pitch from leZlie Lee Kam, a long-time community activist, “like a symbol of acceptance and unity.”
From there, Bass has nothing else planned beyond maintaining a line of communication with Modeste, but said he’s open to doing more. He was booed throughout a May 31 outing versus Milwaukee, his first after the post and apology, and received a much tamer, but still negative reaction when he pitched Monday against Houston.
He’s expecting more boos in the near future, especially if he has to pitch Friday or Saturday, and “I understand where they’re coming from,” he said. “I’m going to keep doing my job and hopefully in time things will get better.”