By Nicholas Poblete/Asst. Sports Director
Robbie Rogers, a retired soccer player, became the first openly gay male athlete to compete in a professional sports league in the United States.
Rogers, born in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on May 12, 1987, opened up about his sexuality following his departure from British-side Leeds United. Both the club and the player decided to part ways, according to The Guardian.
“I’m a soccer player, I’m a Christian and I’m gay,” Rogers said in a 408-word post on his website back in Feb. 15, 2013. “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.”
Following his decision to open up to the world, Rogers decided to retire. In 2013, the defender was 25 years old.
“I thought about flying home to tell everyone, but I just needed to do it and get it off my chest,” he told The New York Times. “The only time that I really cried during this whole process is when I told my mom and she just said: ’Robbie, I don’t care. We love you.’ ”
Rogers told The Guardian that he retired because he didn’t want to deal with the pressure from the media and fans.
But it didn’t take long for the California native to return to the fields. Rogers attempted to return to Major League Soccer, where Chicago Fire SC were the owners of his rights, but he did not want to play in the “Windy City,” because he wanted to play closer to his family. With the Los Angeles Galaxy interested in Rogers, they traded Mike Magee to the Fire, in exchange for Rogers.
On May 26, 2013, the defender made his official comeback against the Seattle Sounders FC. Rogers came in as a substitute as the Galaxy defeated the Sounders 4-0. Rogers then became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a professional sports league in the United States.
He finally decided to hang up his boots for good in 2017. In an Instagram post on Nov. 7, 2017, Rogers highlighted his fondest memories as a soccer player, while also describing the difficulties he faced as he kept his sexuality a secret throughout his youth.
Rogers played for the LA Galaxy and LA Galaxy II from 2013 to 2017, appearing on 84 occasions and scoring two goals. He was also capped by the United States Men’s National Team on 18 occasions and scored two goals.
The former soccer player currently has 128 thousand followers on his Instagram account, where he advocates for equality, on and off the field.
“Again, thank you to everyone who watched or help me follow these dreams. I could never have imagined the happiness I’ll take with me into retirement and into my next chapter,” Rogers said on Instagram.