Robbie Rogers: The History Maker


By Matthew Breen

Robbie Rogers's journey from closeted soccer player to LGBT role model has been as dramatic as it is inspiring.

Talking about the locker room, I imagine there’s talk about women and sex there. How did you feel when that happened?
It was awkward. Before I became true to myself I dated girls. I very much acted the part as a straight footballer, which is pretty sad, but I felt like I had to mask that side of me. Going to Leeds was the best thing that could have happened because I was there by myself; I realized I wasn’t happy and hadn’t been happy in a long time. I didn’t want to be one of those people who are always unhappy and don’t try to change anything. I thought, Now that you’re 25, make a change because you have the power to do it. Which was obviously the best thing ever for me, because I’m actually happy.

You’ve said that before coming out you hadn’t hooked up with any guys. Have you made up for lost time?
How do I answer this? I’m very conservative, but I have met some good people that I’ve hung out with. In London I dated a guy for a few months. He’s still one of my good friends, but it’s been tough to meet people in West Hollywood.

If someone wants to ask you out, what’s your advice on how to make a good impression?
It bothers me when someone tries to hook me up with a friend -- “You’re gay, my friend’s gay, you’re gonna love each other.” It’s like, OK, probably not. It has to happen in an organic way, where someone introduces himself and is genuine and doesn’t want to talk about soccer straight out the gate. When I started dating this guy in London, I just went up to him. I’m sure I’ll meet someone in a random place-- the grocery store or wherever.

You’ve said that you wanted to be a footballer and not a spokesperson. Do you still feel that way?
No, the exact opposite. I want to help people, especially kids who felt the same way I did; it makes me sick to remember the way I felt and to think that…they don’t have a choice of who they are and they feel the same way I used to feel. Now I have this platform that hopefully I can use to reach people in a positive way. This is a learning process for me, but I don’t want to give advice. I’ve just come to terms with myself, so who am I to be giving advice? I love to share my story with these kids and hang out with kids or people or grown men who are struggling, and I’m very happy that God’s given me the courage to try to help in that way.

For many people, being out is a process from acceptance to pride -- it can take a while. That doesn’t seem to be the case with you.
Sometimes I’ll talk to people and they’ll be like, “You must still be trying to get used to things; trying to figure things out,” and I’m like, “I don’t know, I feel quite comfortable.” Being gay doesn’t define me but it is a big part of me, and I have amazing friends that are gay men -- straight friends as well, but these guys are such courageous and creative and loving people that it’s made it easier to be, like, “Of course I’m happy with who I am.” I got back from London and New York a few months back and I had dinner with my family, a simple barbeque in our house in Huntington, sitting around the table with my dog and everyone, and it was like, This is what life is like, this is what hanging out with your family is supposed to feel like. How nuts is it that for 25 years I didn’t feel that way, and then it’s, like, Gosh, Robbie, what took you so long?"

Tags: Sports