In 2013, Robbie Rogers briefly retired from playing soccer with Leeds United in England and then came out in a poignant blog post on his personal website before signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy in May 2013. When he signed with the LA Galaxy, Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to join Major League Soccer or any of the five major North American sports leagues. In 2014, Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to win a big-time team pro sports title in the United States when the Galaxy won the Major League Soccer Cup. However, well before he came out to his friends and family, Rogers first opened up about his sexuality to a random woman he met at a bar in London.
“I had been thinking about it a lot,” Rogers, 27, recalled in a HuffPost Live appearance this week to promote his new memoir, Coming Out to Play. “I just was so sick of lying and wanted to get the ball moving.” Although he told his family a month later, Rogers said the initial coming out “felt so amazing, and I’m sure [the woman] didn’t realize it.”
“Secrets can cause so much internal damage,” he wrote when he came out. “People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay.” We all come out for the first time in different ways. The hardest person to come out to can sometimes be yourself, and then you have to voice it aloud to someone. The first time I told another person was late one night at a party when I told two of my closest friends. They were shocked, but not really. I’m not sure I could have told a complete stranger in a bar though.
Rogers told HuffPost Live’s Alyona Minkovski that while it was “rewarding” for him to hear from younger athletes who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), he’s “always surprised” that so few professional sports stars have come out.
“That’s always been a little weird to me,” he said. I find it disheartening, and a sad commentary on the American sports world. Jason Collins and Michael Sam both came out but neither has really played professionally since. Collins I believe played in a few games, but Sam was a star in the SEC, which should, have made him a top draft choice not someone who was dropped from the Rams and Cowboys. American sports have gay athletes, but it’s sadly understandable why they don’t come out, because they fear losing their jobs.