IN TWEET: MLS STAR ROBBIE ROGERS COMES OUT AND SCORES THE MOST IMPORANT “GOAL” OF HIS YOUNG CAREER. BRAVO!
Though it’s becoming more and more of a yawn when a TV or film star comes out, it’s still a rare event in the world of professional sports. That’s probably the reason for all the buzz this week surrounding MLS player Robbie Rogers announcement (on his website) that he is gay. His statement is poignant, moving and refreshingly honest. I identified with just about every word and hope it becomes a touchstone for those who have yet to find their truth.
I only wish I was as brave, poised and self-assured as Rogers when I was 25. In reality, I was doofus of sorts in my 20’s, equal parts geek, confused and angry at the world. I was living a lie and I knew it but was too scared to reveal the truth in anything other than the safest of circles and circumstances. I had convinced myself that I could only be 100% me if I was certain I would receive only enthusiastic support in return (e.g. from other gay guys, random lesbians and a cadre of wonderful female friends).
In theory, I would talk a big game about agreeing with Harvey Milk's assertion that coming out was the best way to chip away at homophobia. In practice, I was pretty much a "let some one else do it" aficionado. It wasn’t until 1997, at the age of 31, that I finally had “the conversation” with my family. I was inspired to finally cut the BS and spill the beans thanks in no small part to a TV series and the “The Puppy Episode.”
Telling your family is often the most difficult step in the deeply personal process of coming out. Though I didn’t know it going in, my parents and sister were immediately supportive and never once flinched. In fact, it brought us closer as a family. Sadly, for every story like that, there are many that don't have a happy ending.
Even at a time of sweeping changes in attitudes and opinions towards gays and lesbians in the U.S., homophobia and anti-gay violence are still alive and well. Bullying is very real and the suicide rate among LGBT and questioning youth is still slarming. That’s why I was so thrilled that Rogers took such a brave step this week. I didn’t have a pro sports career, endorsements and a national spotlight to contend with like he did. That’s a much bigger reality to grapple with but Robbie Rogers did it and, more importantly, took action in a way that is bound to help others.
Aside from what must be a huge load off his psyche, Rogers did more than shake off the shackles of his own dishonesty and self-loathing. He set an example where examples are needed and, sadly, still the exception. You can be a talented and popular professional soccer player, all around athlete, entrepreneur and also just happen to be gay. That's a huge step in the right direction for this country.
Robbie Rogers is a star and an inspiration in every sense of those words. I hope this is just the first step in an even more amazing journey for him, he deserves nothing less than the best. Even more important, his coming out stands as reminder to any kid out there struggling with their sexual identity: YOU ARE NEVER ALONE AND YOU MATTER!
IF YOU KNOW OR YOU ARE A GAY, LESBIAN, BI-SEXUAL, TRANS OR QUESTIONING YOUTH WHO NEEDS SUPPORT PLEASE CONTACT THE TREVOR PROJECT. THEY ARE THERE TO HELP: