American international and former British Leeds United football midfielder Robbie Rogers has come out as gay. The 25-year-old annonunced that he no longer wanted to keep his sexuality a secret, adding that he ‘couldn’t be happier’ with his decision.
He’s the highest profile footballer to come out in Britain’s national game since Justin Fashanu in 1990 who subsequently committed suicide in 1998. Rogers played for the USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2012 he played for British Championship side Leeds United, then moving on loan to League One team Stevenage from August 2012 until January 2013.
Writing on his blog Rogers described the dreams that had kept him in the closet.
‘Dreams of going to a World Cup, dreams of The Olympics, dreams of making my family proud. What would life be without these dreams? Could I live a life without them?’ he asked. But, as he explained, ‘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. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.
‘I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret. Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football.
‘Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.’
In a subsequent interview with The Guardian, he explained his fear at how his team-mates would react to his sexuality if he had told them while still playing.
He said: "In football it's obviously impossible to come out – because no-one has done it. No one. It's crazy and sad. I thought, "Why don't I step away and deal with this and my family and be happy?" Imagine going to training every day and being in that spotlight? It's been a bit of a circus anyway – but that would have been crazy. And you wouldn't have much control because clubs are pushing you in different directions.
"I was just fearful. I was very fearful how my team-mates were going to react. Was it going to change them? Even though I'd still be the same person would it change the way they acted towards me – when we were in the dressing room or the bus? Football is an amazing sport," he added. "But it is also a brutal sport that picks people up and slams them on their heads. Adding the gay aspect doesn't make a great cocktail. Maybe a lot of fans aren't homophobic. But, in a stadium, sometimes they want to destroy you. In the past I would have said: 'They don't know I'm gay so it doesn't mean anything.' But, now they know it, am I going to jump in the stands and fight them?"
Lustralboy recently wondered whether the long-awaited emergence of high-profile gay footballers was about burst upon us. Roger's insider insights reflect all too clearly just how ingrained are the sport's homophobic attitudes. As he admits, he will now never be able to return to the game he loves. What a sad condemnation of the game that is!
Join our mailing list
- October 1st, 2016
- August 10th, 2016
- March 19th, 2016
- February 3rd, 2016
- January 16th, 2016
- September 30th, 2015