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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 17, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 25
'I don't want bigots to be fans of this team'

Seahawks' Ryan defends LGBTQ-friendly social media post after Orlando shooting
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'I don't want bigots to be fans of this team'

Seahawks' Ryan defends LGBTQ-friendly social media post after Orlando shooting

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

With all of the heartbreak, anger, and fear that surrounds the LGBTQ community this week, some respite from the woes of the world could be taken from the fact that many straight allies - most of them unexpected - came out of the woodwork to offer support and defend the community against intolerance on and off the Internet.

But even they sometimes learn that support for the LGBTQ community can have a price.

Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan deleted his Twitter and Instagram accounts over the weekend following a testy exchange on Instagram regarding the Orlando shooting. He says he has no idea when or if he will create new accounts.

'I don't know,' Ryan said Wednesday after the Seahawks' minicamp practice at the team facility. 'Right now it's like it feels like I just got out of a bad relationship and now I'm free. ... It's nice to be off of there right now.'

Ryan's social-media interaction regarding the Orlando tragedy and his subsequent decision have gone viral, which is ironic considering he deleted his accounts - and 'going viral' is considered social media gold.

On Sunday, Ryan made a post on Instagram referring to the tragedy in Orlando, in which 49 people were killed at Pulse, a Gay nightclub.

The post was a simple rainbow photo with the words: 'more love #orlando'.

Among the responses, according to the Seattle Times, was one asking: 'Where in the bible does it say it's ok to be homo sexual [sic]?'

'Please unfollow me,' Ryan responded. 'You're a terrible human being ... please stop cheering for the Seahawks. We don't want piece of [expletive] fans like you. Thanks.'

Shortly after, Ryan says he deleted his accounts and maintains that the decision was his own.

'I think if the team had told me to take it down then I would have kept it up, to be honest,' he said. 'That's how I react to stuff like that. The team definitely had nothing to do with it. I wasn't trying to hide what I said by any means. I will come forward and say that again, and I will stand up to anyone who is trying to oppose equality, for sure. So I wasn't trying to hide what I said by any means.'

Instead, he said, 'I was just angry. I just didn't want to be a part of that anymore. I felt like if my page was helping breed hate among people, I didn't want to be a part of that. And it was one of those things, make a bit of a stance. I don't know if it really does or not, but I think we are in a position (as athletes) where we can kind of have our voices heard. And sometimes saying nothing is saying the most, and I felt that was kind of what it was by taking the page down.'

'I think my only regret is that I didn't respond more harshly,' said Ryan, who has been with the Seahawks since 2008, making him the longest-tenured member of the team. 'I don't want bigots to be fans of this team. I think in the Pacific Northwest we are pretty progressive in a lot of equality issues, and anything that holds that back, people like that can move on in my opinion.'

'And the thing that saddened me even more is that this one particular guy that was very angry and people came to his defense, which disgusted me even more,' he continued. 'And teenage kids were coming to his defense, which scared me, scared me about the future. So I definitely don't regret it whatsoever.'

Ryan is engaged to comedian Sarah Colonna, who also is active on social media. Colonna confirmed via Twitter that Ryan had taken down his accounts 'because people are defending a terrorist, a murderer.'

Ryan admits he has a platform to make a statement on issues such as bigotry and intolerance and he chose to use that platform when he responded.

'I'm not really doing things like that because I'm an athlete but because I'm a human being,' he said. 'I'm not opposed to the Second Amendment and all this stuff that people get worked up about, and I don't believe they should oppose the Second Amendment. But something needs to be done. Even one life is too many.'

'... So I'm not trying to stand up as a football player or someone who is in that position,' he concluded. 'I'm just trying to voice my opinion as a human being.'

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'I don't want bigots to be fans of this team'

Seahawks' Ryan defends LGBTQ-friendly social media post after Orlando shooting

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