Representatives from You Can Play earlier today met with Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar to discuss the September 15 incident in which Mr. Escobar appeared on the field with a homophobic slur written on his eye black.
Patrick Burke, co-founder of You Can Play, and Jose Estevez, a Boston College runner, were invited by the Blue Jays to meet with Mr. Escobar and their management team. Estevez, a native of Miami, is fluent in English and Spanish. “I thought the meeting was very productive,” said Burke. “Yunel seemed genuinely interested in what Jose had to say, and appeared to really take it to heart. I think Jose did a tremendous job of making Yunel fully grasp the implications behind his actions.”
Burke, Estevez, and Escobar met for roughly 45 minutes in the Blue Jays front office. Estevez spoke about the issues faced by LGBT athletes, both in the locker room and at home. “Before I came out, my teammates threw around homophobic slurs constantly. After I came out, it stopped. Athletes need to recognize how their language affects their teammates and fans.” Escobar expressed appreciation for Estevez’s willingness to work with him, and spoke about his desire to be a leader in the fight against homophobia to make up for his previous actions.
Burke and Estevez also met with Blue Jays management, including GM Alex Anthopolous and president and CEO Paul Beeston. “Paul, Alex, and the Blue Jays front office team are committed to making this right. They’re going to make a strong push to change the culture around the locker room, in the stands, and to reach out to Toronto’s LGBT community,” said Burke. “I think we’ll see a long term, sustained commitment from them. Their management team was put in a tough position, and I think they’ve reacted admirably to rectify what occurred.”
Said Estevez on the meeting, “I think we really reached him today. I think he’s had a change of heart and I believe that he’s learned from this.”
You Can Play is dedicated to building acceptance of LGBT athletes by promoting respect for talent, heart and skill, regardless of sexual orientation, and changing the culture of locker rooms and fan venues by challenging homophobic language and images.