Gay Soccer Player Surprised by Teammates' Reaction
By Robert Pace
Soccer player Robbie Rogers, who boldly revealed he was gay earlier this year, discussed at Friday's GLSEN Respect Awards how his teammates reacted to his coming out.
After playing a few years in the MLS and a year abroad in England, Rogers decided to retire from soccer at age 25, simultaneously announcing his true sexual orientation. He admitted at the time that the move was influenced by the potential backlash he'd receive for being gay.
However, after becoming inspired through speaking at an LGBT youth event, Rogers canceled his retirement plans. On May 26, playing under a new contract with the L.A. Galaxy, Rogers became the first active openly gay male athlete in North American professional sports.
Attending Friday's Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Respect Awards, Rogers divulged his teammates' reaction to his coming out, admitting he was surprised.
"Surprisingly very positive," Rogers, a striker, said. "I say 'surprisingly' because I've been in locker rooms my whole life where it hasn't been that accepting; people say things that kind of scar you. But it's been very supportive."
Although he's received backing from his teammates, Rogers revealed that he has received sneers from the opposition.
"Of course, you hear things in different stadiums or you hear guys say certain things, but not in the Galaxy locker room," he said.
Also in attendance at the annual gala recognizing the efforts of individual and corporate leaders making differences to ensure schools are safe for LGBT students was professional basketball player Jason Collins, who revealed he was gay in April.
With a legion of celebrities at the event, The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons and his partner Todd Spiewak received the Inspiration Award for their strides for LGBT youth.
"It's very special," Parsons said of the award. "...We feel certainly honored but somewhat funny to be singled out in such an amazing group. I don't know that we always feel that we've done as many wonderful things as some of these kids have, but we'll take it happily. It's very sweet."