Robbie Rogers, the American winger best known for his days as one of Major League Soccer’s top wing players while with the Columbus Crew, posted an announcement to his personal website today. In it, Rogers (last sighted on loan with Stevenage) came out of the closet as a gay man and retired, all in one fell swoop. It was an incredibly brave act.
Rogers’s statement, in full:
The Next Chapter…
Things are never what they seem… My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today’s society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose.
For the past 25 year I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams.
Dreams of going to a World Cup, dreams of The Olympics, dreams of making my family proud. What would life be without these dreams? Could I live a life without them?
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.
Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.
I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.
Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.
And while no words from us will add to Robbie’s courageous step, this tweet perfectly sums up the outpouring of support he has received.
I love US soccer fandom. I especially love that our collective reaction to a player coming out is “Dude, why are you retiring?”
— Christopher Dwyer (@dwyercd) February 15, 2013
Here’s hoping Robbie’s example, and the amazing positive response he has received, convinces others who have long felt forced to live secret lives to finally be themselves.