Robbie Rogers has played for the Columbus Crew, he’s played in the UK, he’s played for the U.S. Olympic national team and now he plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
And, in May 2013, he became, at 25, the first openly gay male to compete in a North American professional sports league. Rogers, a California native, came out to this family, and then he came out publicly.
It was as liberating as anything could be.
“Yeah, that’s exactly how I felt,” Rogers said on The MoJo Show. “Even when I came out to my family, when I came out to my brothers and sisters, getting that out of my body, out of my mind, and that weight off my shoulders was one of the most liberating feelings that I’ve ever felt. I would say coming out to the public after that when I wrote my blog or letter, I think that would be the most freeing experience that I had.”
Rogers said his family was very accepting of his announcement, which came with a bit of trepidation. Actually, it came with a lot of trepidation.
“I come from a very conservative, Catholic family, so I was really afraid,” Rogers said. “I heard things when I was younger that were not necessarily very accepting to the LGTB community. But they were absolutely amazing. I kind of learned that I had to give my loved ones a chance to kind of really know me and to love me.”
Rogers, 27, sometimes regrets not coming out sooner, but other times he is happy with how things played out.
“I think about it both ways,” he said. “I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to experience things when I was younger. And at times when I was on the Olympic team or with the national team, I couldn’t (fully) experience that and be just a complete person and go through all those emotions and be open with my family about all that stuff. But I am who I am today and that’s because of all those experiences and living abroad and having to deal with this and kind of come to terms with just myself. I don’t want to be a person that regrets anything, but I do sometimes get a little sad when I think of all the time I spent being alone or feeling like I was alone.”
That’s one of the reasons Rogers wrote his book, Coming Out To Play, with Eric Marcus. Rogers wanted other people to read his account, learn from it and perhaps gain the courage to come out themselves.
“Initially, it was for other people,” Rogers said. “The reaction I received when I came out publicly, I got letters from people all around the world – and it wasn’t just gay men or women. It was straight people that felt like at some point in their life they were very isolated. It was very therapeutic. I had to work through a lot of things that I haven’t necessarily talked about and I’ve kind of kept under the surface, but I had to bring all this stuff to the surface and talk about it and write about it. It became a great experience for me. But I think because I was so honest about it, I think that’s what people are kind of connecting with now.”