Our week of Robbie Rogers continues! Today, we will be featuring some quotes from the footballer, who was the second male footballer in Britain to be openly gay and the first openly gay male athlete to join MLS or any of the five major North American sports leagues.
Let us begin with an interview he had with The Mirror, where he was asked about the potential to be drafted in for the 2018 World Cup in Russia or the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This is obviously due to the rampant homophobia in both countries.
“If I were to go to Russia or Qatar then I would do it and I would be extremely flamboyant about it. I think what I’ve learned from my experience of coming out and being present in the locker room is that by being there, it is more of a statement than boycotting or something like that.”
On a similar topic, he also spoke with ESPN about how the attitudes towards LGBT people are changing, especially in the world of sports.
“Just a couple of years ago, there were no ‘out’ athletes. It’s crazy how quickly the landscape changes.”
Then, on his coming out: “”I was so busy doing appearances and interviews and all this different stuff that I didn’t actually enjoy the game that first year.; I was trying to be comfortable with being the only gay soccer player and the only gay guy on my team. At first, I kind of struggled with it. Then last year I realized that it didn’t really matter, that nobody on my team cares. I focused on being a good soccer player, because I felt that that would be more of a statement.”
“I get letters pretty much every day from kids. […] I would be lying if I said that my plan was to come out and help all these people. The truth is I was trying to help myself. I was depressed, and I wanted to be happy.”
“There are times when it’s important to talk about things. Like when FIFA’s being ridiculous […] But outside of that I really don’t even really think of myself as an openly gay soccer player. I’ve had other professional athletes come out to me, but no soccer players,. At least not yet.”
In a separate interview, he discussed the ever prevalent issue in every gay or lesbian person’s life – homophobia. This is especially true for someone like Robbie, who is one of the very few “out” people in his field.
“I wouldn’t hear as much from fans but it was more in the locker room from guys on the team—that’s where it affected me the most in England and when I was on the national team. The most upsetting thing I can remember as a young player happened in England when I was riding a bike, doing a regeneration session after a game, and some of my teammates were all around me having a full-on “how could someone possibly be gay—that’s so disgusting” discussion.”
“And I was just riding that bike thinking I was never going to come out. But then, when I did come out, some of those same guys were the first ones texting me to say ‘Robbie we love you so much.’ It’s very interesting how the brain works—those guys got caught saying things they thought the other guys wanted to hear, even though they didn’t really seem to believe them.”
And, on a separate occasion: “I think when you hear homophobic chants or slurs in stadiums, the people behind that aren’t always homophobic but just part of a culture that is all about the ‘pack’.”
And finally, to wrap up, something for all of us to take home: “Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.”