CHICAGO — Cubs fans have found a unique way to show their disdain for new team member Daniel Murphy: They’re donating to LGBTQ groups.
Murphy, a second baseman traded to the Cubs from the Nationals this week, has come under fire from fans for previous comments where he said he “disagree[s]” with the “lifestyle” of a gay man. He made his first appearance for the Cubs on Wednesday night, just days before Sunday’s Out at Wrigley event, generating even more controversy.
In response, Cubs fans have said they plan to donate to Howard Brown Health every time Murphy gets a hit or has a home run over the rest of the season. Howard Brown Health, 4025 N. Sheridan Road, is a pioneering center that provides health care for all but is particularly focused on helping LGBTQ people.
“Howard Brown’s been a great resource for me, personally. They’re a great use of everybody’s time and money, as far as I’m concerned,” said Nathan Parker, a gay man and Cubs fan who plans to donate several dollars to the center for every hit Murphy gets. Murphy’s acquisition was “pretty heartbreaking, honestly. I felt insulted because Daniel Murphy’s views are very well known.”
Parker, of Roscoe Village, has been a Cubs fan his entire life but said it was “frustrating” to hear of Murphy joining the Cubs. The team’s front office has tried to project an image of acceptance and openness over the last few years, he said, but the trade for Murphy is at odds with that image.
Parker plans to donate a lump sum at the end of the season and hopes other Cubs fans will join in by helping LGBTQ groups. He rarely spends money on the team, he said, but he thinks giving Howard Brown “a few bucks” per Murphy’s hits will be a “good thing to do.”
“I hope the message is that I’d much rather spend my money on Howard Brown than I would on the Cubs,” he said.
Other fans have said they’ll donate to other LGBTQ-friendly organizations. Similar efforts popped up when Aroldis Chapman, who has a history of domestic violence, was signed to the Cubs. At least one fan decided to donate $10 to a domestic violence group every time Chapman had a save.
Murphy’s anti-gay comments came in spring 2015, when Billy Bean, the MLB’s ambassador of inclusion, visited the Mets and spoke with players. Bean is openly gay, and Murphy told reporters he “disagree[s] with the fact that Billy is a homosexual.”
“I disagree with his lifestyle,” Murphy said, according to CBS Sports. “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him.
“That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”
In a statement on Friday, the Cubs said Murphy had developed a “positive relationship” with Bean and MLB’s Office of Inclusion over the years since those remarks.
“Our ownership, including Laura Ricketts, was involved in the discussion and supportive of the trade,” the Cubs said in a statement. “We hope our fans continue to support and embrace this team as there is no question we value each and every one of our fans from all backgrounds and walks of life, as will be the case this Sunday for the annual Out at Wrigley event.”
Adding to the controversy was Murphy’s Wednesday debut, which came just days before Sunday’s Out at Wrigley event. Out at Wrigley is a fan-organized event to celebrate the Cubs’ gay supporters.
“I just don’t like the man at all,” said Bill Gubrud, who created Out at Wrigley — then called Gay Day — in 2001. “Honestly, when someone says they don’t like the gay lifestyle, what they’re saying is, ‘I think it’s gross when two guys are having sex together.’ And that’s exactly what Daniel Murphy meant.
“There weren’t many openly gay sports fans [during the first Gay Day in 2001] because of the fear of retribution, of going to a ballpark and all that … . Stupid comments like that from Daniel Murphy, there’s no place in society for anything like that.”
There was even more criticism on Wednesday afternoon after comic Rhea Butcher took to Twitter to point out Murphy would make his debut for the team around the same time as Out at Wrigley.
“As a queer woman and lifelong Cubs fan, this hurts a whole bunch to watch,” one person tweeted.
In a post on Facebook, Out at Wrigley urged fans to bring rainbow gear to Sunday’s game to show Murphy “we don’t care if he disagrees with the ‘gay lifestyle.’”
The Out at Wrigley game begins 1:20 p.m. Sunday at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs did not respond to requests for comment.