Former Major League Baseball player TJ House came out as gay by sharing the news of his engagement to his boyfriend in an emotional Facebook post.
House, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays (2014-2017), expressed himself candidly, writing, “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,” he continued. “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.”
House shared that he felt like he could not be himself around many people, because of conversations he heard from others and in church. “It’s hard listening to people talk about you without them knowing that the words they are saying are directed at you,” he wrote.
“I’ve been loved my whole life for what I did as a career, and it carried me for the longest time,” the 33-year-old southpaw added. “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.”
House admits that while his professional baseball career was a whirlwind of “living the dream,” he knew there was an empty place in his life. “But even with all the money, fancy cars, nice clothes and a little tiny bit of fame, I would go home every night wishing I could change. Deep down I wanted something more, I wanted to be loved not for what I did, but who I was.”
House shared it was the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) in Congress that inspired him to come forward about his engagement to fiancé, Ryan Neitzel. The legislation was approved by the U.S. House on December 8 by a vote of 258-169, and will soon be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Regarding the RFMA, House wrote, “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 fiance, who challenges me daily to become a better person. To live life authentically. One who I never deserved but blessed to have. Love you see, it’s for everyone.”
“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,” he wrote in closing. “Today I am Loved.”
According to LGBTQ sports website Outsports, House is only the third former MLB player to come out publicly. In 1982, Glenn Burke came out after playing for the LA Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics. Seventeen years later, Billy Bean came out in 1999 after playing for the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Bean is now the league’s senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Speaking with Outsports, Bean said, “This is a great day for the league and baseball.”
House, who now works as a Realtor, has been sharing photos with Neitzel on Instagram for years. In September, he posted a group of pics of the two celebrating “8 turns around the sun” with Neitzel.
Congratulations to House and Neitzel on their engagement, and to House for sharing his authentic self with the world.