Saturday, May 12, 2018

Happy Birthday to Former Soccer Player Robbie Rogers, First Out Male Athlete In Major League Sports


Robbie Rogers was born today, May 12, in 1987. He is a former American professional soccer player. He played as a winger and as a left back. Rogers has also represented the United States men's national soccer team. 

In February 2013, Rogers came out as gay, becoming the second male soccer player in Britain to do so after Justin Fashanu in 1990. On May 26, 2013, he became the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league when he played his first match for the LA Galaxy.

After one season playing college soccer at the University of Maryland, Rogers attracted the interest of Dutch Eredivisie side Heerenveen. He signed for Heerenveen in August 2006 but failed to make any first-team appearances. He left the club by mutual consent in February 2007, and returned to the United States to sign for Columbus Crew. Rogers' 4-year tenure at Columbus Crew was a successful one, with the player breaking through into the first-team, as well as securing an MLS Cup title in 2008 and two Supporters' Shield wins in 2008 and 2009 respectively. In December 2011, Rogers opted to leave Crew when his contract expired. A month later, he signed for Championship side Leeds United on a free transfer. The first 6 months of his Leeds career were blighted by injury, and he was transfer-listed ahead of the 2012–13 season. In August 2012, Rogers joined League One team Stevenage on a loan deal until January 2013. At the end of Rogers' loan agreement at Stevenage, he briefly returned to Leeds before it was announced he had left the club by mutual consent.

Weeks after being released by Leeds United, on February 15, 2013, Rogers announced his retirement from professional soccer at age 25 and announced he was gay. He announced his retirement and sexuality with a 408-word post on his personal blog in which Rogers wrote, "I'm a soccer player, I'm Christian, and I'm gay. Those are things that people might say wouldn't go well together. But my family raised me to be an individual and to stand up for what I believe in."


In a March 2013 interview with The Guardian, Rogers said he retired to avoid the pressure and scrutiny from the press and fans, which he called "the circus." Rogers said, "Are people coming to see you because you're gay? Would I want to do interviews every day, where people are asking: 'So you're taking showers with guys—how's that?'"

After basketball player Jason Collins came out as gay in April 2013, he sought out Rogers for advice on dealing with the media.

On May 1, 2013, Rogers joined Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer in training as a "special guest." Rogers said he made the decision to return in April 2013, after speaking in front of a crowd of 500 at an LGBT youth event in Portland, Oregon, during which he "seriously felt like a coward." Rogers told USA TODAY Sports, "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 to not step up to the plate?" He contacted Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who extended him an invitation to train in Los Angeles. By signing
 with the Galaxy, he became the first openly gay male athlete to join MLS or any of the five major North American sports leagues.

On May 24, 2013, Rogers agreed to terms with the Galaxy, pending the trade of his MLS rights from Chicago Fire SC. 
Two days later Rogers played his first match as a substitute for the Galaxy in a 4–0 win over the Seattle Sounders FC, becoming the first openly gay man to play in a top North American professional sports league (Collins, who had come out earlier in the month, was a free agent at the time of his announcement).

In 2014, Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to win a big-time team pro sports title in the United States when the Galaxy were crowned MLS Cup champions.

On November 7, 2017 Rogers retired permanently due to a series of injuries that forced him to miss all the entire 2017 season.

Rogers began dating television writer producer Greg Berlanti (above with Rogers) in 2013, and on February 18, 2016, they welcomed their first son via surrogacy, Caleb Berlanti. On December 31, 2016, Rogers and Berlanti announced they had become engaged. They were married on December 2, 2017, in Malibu, California. 

He wrote a memoir about his experience coming out in professional sports called Coming Out to Play. Below is a profile of Rogers from the Today Show from November 2014.

1 comment:

Sooo-this-is-me said...

He is very easy on the eyes! It makes me very happy to see a handsome young professional athlete admit to being gay but it makes me incredibly sad that someone born in 1987 is old enough to retire!!!