Robbie Rogers Grants First Interview Since Coming Out, Leaves Door Open for Return to Soccer

Robbie RogersBefore you ask “Why is this relevant?” just remember that there has yet to be a gay athlete in any major American sport to come out during their career — and think of why that might be.

Back in February, former U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team player and Leeds United forward Robbie Rogers came out as gay on his blog, penning a 400-word post declaring his sexual preference. Rogers also announced that he was leaving soccer, saying he wanted to “discover myself away from football.”

Over the last month-and-a-half Rogers has stayed quiet in public aside from Twitter. However, it’s worth noting that Rogers’ announcement was followed with a major outpouring of support from fellow soccer players and athletes throughout the world of sports.

On Friday, the New York Times published the first formal interview with Rogers since his announcement. The 25-year-old explained that he hopes “people will understand that I need to be a little selfish about this,” but also left the door open to returning to soccer one day.

“I’m definitely not closing any doors,” Rogers said. “Maybe I will go back. Right now, I’m just happy to be out and being honest with people. But just because I’m out doesn’t mean I’m 100 percent healthy. It’s been 25 years that I haven’t been myself. Twenty-five years of lying. That’s really, really hard.”

Among the revelations that come out in the article, Rogers says that no one in his life — even outside the world of soccer — knew he was gay, including his family and closest friends. Rogers says he knew he was “different” by age 10, and understood that he was gay by 14.

“I’m a Catholic, I’m a conservative, I’m a footballer and I’m gay,” Rogers said. “Imagine living all that time with just a cramp in your stomach. I kept thinking, I hope I don’t do something that makes people wonder, is Robbie gay?”

Rogers says that the first person he came out to was a random woman at a bar (“I told her I was gay, and she still tried to hook up with me. It was weird.”) and that, if he does return to soccer, it would like be in Major League Soccer. Rogers says that the culture in European football still lags behind America, with much engrained homophobia.

“I’m not going to name names — it’s just that pack mentality,” Rogers said. “I remember hearing some of them talk about the possibility of gay players and saying things like, ‘If gay footballers can shower with us, I want to shower with girls.’ And I’m just thinking, ‘Dude, you have no idea what you’re talking about.'”

“I’ve showered with guys my whole life. And never once have I been excited, like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s time to shower with the guys.’ It isn’t that way. There’s no interest. You don’t think of guys on your team that way. You just don’t.”

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