Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Coming Out to Play

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.


Jamie James said...

I believe soccer is more forgiving than the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. There is a different demographic that loves soccer, and I think that makes a difference. Personally, I don't care for any pro sports, but I follow stories like this. At least they make the sports seem a little bit human, even when the nastiness creeps in as it did for Michael Sam. I his degree from an SEC school means something, so he can make a living!

Peace <3

JiEL said...

We had a soccer player, David Triesto, that did his coming out to his Impact soccer team in Montreal and all his fans...

It wasn't a big deal here but was in the news like any news.

In Canada, the Olympic commitee did a press conference to testifiy that our Olympic Team is totally suporting gay athletes and will act against ALL discrimination..

Maybe Canada is a bit ahead here but we're proud to be a country who preserve the RIGHTS of ALL our citizens no matter their religion, race of sexual orientations...

Peace and LOVE to ALL.

JiEL said...

The soccer player's name is David Testo..
Here is his facebook page.

Must also mention that we had this olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury that did his coming our MANY years ago...

More really normal gay raw models come out the more young men and women will know that they can live nice and productive lives..

naturgesetz said...

I had hoped that Jason Collins would make it acceptable for gay professional athletes to come out. Not that I blame others for their caution and remaining closeted, but if things had happened a little differently, and there had been a dozen or so topnotch players who came out soon after him, it really would have brought progress.