Home run romance! Ex-MLB player T.J. House announced his engagement to Ryan Neitzel, publicly disclosing his sexuality for the first time.
The former athlete, 33, came out as gay in a recent Facebook post, sharing images from an engagement photo shoot. “Love. It’s a simple word, one that carries much weight and meaning,” House wrote. “Each of us defines love in a different way, but at the core we all just want to feel the same. To be loved by someone who only wants the best for you, walking the trials of life side by side. Some say we choose who we love as if love doesn’t pop out of the darkest corner of your life, when you least expect it, and throws you into a magical spell that pulls you out of loneliness.”
House continued: “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. 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.”
The Louisiana native, who previously played for the Cleveland Guardians and the Toronto Blue Jays, reflected on being “carried” by the praise he received from baseball fans over the years.
“I’ve been loved my whole life for what I did as a career. … Eventually though, it’s a bandage that covers a wound that needs fresh air to heal,” he added. “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 recalled being a 23-year-old athlete in Cleveland “living out [his] childhood dream” of playing professional sports. “I dedicated all my energy into it, using it as my drug too [sic] numb what was really going on inside. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every moment of my playing days … [but] 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,” he explained.
The pitcher, who left the league in 2017, asserted that he would do it all over again — “with one big change” — if given the chance. He also conceded that he “gave very few” people the opportunity to see his true colors.
“It’s hard listening to people talk about you without them knowing that the words they are saying are directed at you,” he wrote, going on to address the recent passage of the Respect for Marriage Act by the U.S. Congress. “[The bill] 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 blessed to have. Love you see, it’s for everyone.”
House concluded: “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.”
The couple received well-wishes from fellow baseball pros, including pitcher Danny Burawa, who commented: “Happy and proud of you, my brother. Best wishes in the future.”
Billy Bean, former outfielder and current senior vice president of MLB diversity, equity and inclusion, told Outsports of House’s announcement: “This is a great day for the league and baseball.” (The 58-year-old California native came out in 1999, becoming the second baseball pro to do so.)
Before publicly sharing his story, House dedicated a sweet Instagram post to his soon-to-be husband in September. “‘After all this time?’ Says Dumbledore. ‘Always,’” the realtor wrote in the caption, quoting Harry Potter. “Happy 8 turns around the sun @r_neitzel.”