It started with a post on a website. One small piece of text for the web. One giant leap for men’s athletics.
On February 10, 2012, Robbie Rogers became the second openly soccer player in Great Britain. He left a post on his personal web page that indicated his reasons for finally coming out.
“Secrets can cause so much internal damage. 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.
“Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career.”
As a big fan of Rogers and his career, it was evident that Rogers was always a bit different than his teammates in terms of interests. He would tweet about different things and march to a different beat. However, I never expected he was gay. As a gay rights supporter, though, I was thrilled when I found out one of my favorite players was so courageous.
Rogers now plays in the MLS again, this time for the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he became the first active openly gay player in a major North American sport. His play matches his personality, fiery, skilled, inventive and highly competitive.
The impact of Rogers’ announcement is still being demonstrated in sports today, including today’s announcement by Missouri player Michael Sam, who became the first NFL draft prospect to come out as openly gay. As SEC player of the year on the defensive side, it stands to reason that Sam will become the first openly gay NFL player, unless another active player beats him to it.
This announcement and the announcement of Jason Collins, the ex-NBA center who came out in a beautiful way in Sports Illustrated, follow the tone of Rogers. However, Sam and Collins came out in a much more publicized manner.
Collins and Rogers are now friends and have shown support for each other at various events. In a way, the two will always be the pioneers of openly gay male athletes for their sports and sports in general. Should he be drafted, Sam will follow suit as well.
Would Sam and Collins have came out if it wasn’t for Rogers? That’s debatable, but I believe Rogers laid the groundwork for those that would follow.
As a fiery forward player with 15 career MLS assists, Rogers and his courage keeps assisting others to take a brave step in life, just like he did.