At last year’s LA Galaxy Pride night, out soccer player Robbie Rogers scored his first goal with the team. One year later, Rogers is sidelined due to an ankle surgery, but his feelings of pride are stronger than ever.
We chatted with Rogers before the Pride event. The athlete gave us an update on his injury, explained why Pride nights are important for sport teams, and discussed life with newborn Caleb Gene and boyfriend writer/producer Greg Berlanti.
Out: First of all, how is your ankle? What happened?
Robbie Rogers: I had some loose bones floating around the back of my ankle close to my Achilles and it was just really irritating the Achilles so I had them taken out. I’m probably out for about two months. I’m on crutches for the next week and then I’ll be in the boot so I can still get around, but I won’t train for a month or so.
Heal quickly! Why do you think it’s important we have Pride nights in mainstream sports? What’s the message you hope gets across?
I grew up thinking there wasn’t a place for me in sports, but obviously that’s because there aren’t out athletes. This is our third event and I think events like this show the younger generation that there’s a place for them in sports. Everyone is welcome and there’s a place for you in the stadium, there’s a place for you in professional sports and amateur sports.
I want to see the people who show up not knowing it’s a Pride night and maybe are enlightened a bit.
When I was at Dodger Stadium [for their Pride night on June 3], I think that happened for some people and I agree. I think that educational part is just as important.
How have you all navigated this year’s Pride night in the wake of the Orlando tragedy?
That’s a good question. It’s more important, now more than ever, for the LGBT community to be public and to be present and show the world who we are. It’s somewhere we can all be together as a community and still have a good time but also send a message to the sports world and to young gay men and women that they can be whoever they want to be and know that they are loved regardless of whether they’re gay, straight, or whatever.
For me, when I was thinking about the event, I was thinking how it’s a really great time to celebrate as gay men and women, celebrate each other and celebrate who we are. There were a lot of years when a night like this wasn’t possible and now changes are happening and there’s more for us to overcome, but we can celebrate and be happy and enjoy the night.
I thought it was similar to what you said on the Chelsea show recently that we shouldn’t boycott sporting events, but we should be present.
Of course not. It’s a moment to really stand out and show people that you’re proud of who you are, there’s no shame, we’re not afraid of anyone. As a community, we’re proud of each other and ourselves.
Since you’ve been with the Galaxy for awhile, was there a learning curve for some of your teammates who never had a publically gay player on the team before?
I was really afraid to go in, but from the second I walked into the locker room there wasn’t necessarily a learning curve but I think people at first were a little afraid of what kind of banter…in a locker room, you joke about everything and before they were afraid of joking with me about going out or if I had a boyfriend and things like that but now it’s at the point where we joke about everything. They feel free to banter with me and I can banter back with them. I didn’t have any gay athletes and I couldn’t mimic anyone or walk in anyone else’s shoes since I didn’t know what it would be like—and it was the same for them, honestly.
Congrats on the addition of Caleb Gene to your family with Greg. You always hear that having a baby changes your life. What has your experience been?
It’s hard to explain. It’s just really such a gift and he brings so much to our lives. You hear that things change and you have to give up this and that, but I don’t feel like I’m giving up anything. I feel like I’m learning so much from him, like spending Sundays and family days and doing stuff with just the three of us has been so amazing. He’s been teaching us lessons and we’re excited since every week it’s something new. It’s really just one of the most amazing things for a couple or a person to go through. I feel really blessed and lucky, and the surgery gives me more time to spend with him.