Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Robbie Rogers

Twenty-six year old Robbie Rogers just became the second* openly gay active athlete in U.S. men's professional team sports. He ended his retirement yesterday to join the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS). Rogers declared that he was gay three months ago, upon announcing his retirement from the sport. More alert readers will recall that the LA Galaxy was David Beckham’s home for six years until his departure last December.

*the first was NBA center Jason Collins (Washington Wizards, now a free agent without a contract to play next season).

Rogers wrote on his website how difficult it was to keep his sexuality hidden:

“For the past 25 years I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams...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. I always thought I could hide this secret. [Soccer] was my escape, my purpose, my identity. [Soccer] hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined."

Robbie Rogers is an accomplished international soccer player now in his prime. He wants to play for the American team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but the only way that can happen is if he excels with the Galaxy. Robbie also hopes to use soccer as a platform for tolerance and acceptance, leading more gay athletes to come out.

Rogers says his epiphany came after speaking to an LGBT youth group in Portland: "I seriously felt like a coward. These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I'm 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I not to  step up to the plate?" Now, just days after his 26th birthday, he's back in the game.

The Southern California native attended the University of Maryland and represented the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He then played for the Columbus Crew, where he engaged in four productive seasons. Rogers won an MLS Cup in 2008, two Supporters Shield titles and a spot on the 2008 MLS Best 11. He has also played British-based soccer for Leeds United and Stevenage.

May 27.2013: Soccer midfielder Robbie Rogers made his LA Galaxy last night (Sunday) night against the Seattle Sounders. He entered the game to a rousing ovation in the 77th minute, becoming the first openly gay male athlete to play in an American professional team sport. Galaxy chalked up a 4-0 rout. The 26-year-old Huntington Beach, CA, native had five touches, one tackle and three completed passes in the final 13 minutes.

Said teammate Robbie Keane, "It was great to see Robbie [Rogers] get that kind of reception from the fans, and now he can concentrate on being a Galaxy player."

Although the ink was barely dry on his contract (Rogers had signed a scant 24 hours before yesterday’s game), Robbie had been practicing with the team for several weeks.

Video excerpt from an interview with Anderson Cooper (April 15):

No comments:

Post a Comment