SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

February 20, 2013

Hats off to Robbie Rogers


Ex-midfielder reveals he’s gay; support pours in


MIKE MUNDEN FOR THE DISPATCH      Robbie Rogers was a midfielder with the Crew from 2007 to ’11.

Before he could move forward with his life, former Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers decided he had  to be true to himself.      And after deciding to step away from soccer and chase other pursuits, he realized that meant sharing a secret that had caused decades of internal damage.

In a blog post, Rogers announced that he is gay and that he is leaving soccer. Immediately, he was inundated with messages of love and support from across the globe as one of the most high-profile athletes to come out.

“It’s a big deal,” said Patrick Burke, president of the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for athletes regardless of sexual orientation. “It shouldn’t be, but it is. There’s very few players who come out, even in retirement.”

  • In his roughly 400-word blog post, titled “The Next Chapter …,” Rogers said his life has been filled with the fear of admitting who he truly is.

“Life is only complete when your loved ones know you,” he wrote. “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.

“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.”

Former teammate and close friend Andy Iro said that Rogers decided to come out after he chose to step away from the game. He told a small group of people, including his parents, before going public with the news.

“This is a very ego-driven sport, very male, a lad kind of sport,” Iro said. “Coming out to football players, guys that he’s played with, been in the locker room with, that’s extremely difficult. (He) didn’t want to continue living a lie.”

  • Pressures from within an organization or club can pale compared to what a gay athlete can experience on the field, said Bob Vitale, editor in chief of Outlook Magazine, a monthly lifestyle and advocacy periodical in Columbus.

“Fans can be pretty brutal,” he said. “I’d imagine it will be difficult when they’re on the field, but Jackie Robinson went through that, too. I would imagine that might be the worst part of it.”

Burke said Rogers’ news will make it easier for other gay athletes to follow suit. “I think what it does is, it keeps breaking down that stereotype,” he said. “For the next guy who’s thinking of coming out who knows now there are other athletes like him who are playing at a high level, I think it will help.”

Rogers’ next move remains uncertain, and messages to him and his agent, Shaun Higgins, were not returned. Rogers is the co-owner of Halsey, a menswear brand, and tweeted this week that he was starting his first day at Men’s Health magazine.

Should Rogers return to soccer, he would become the first openly gay athlete in a professional team sport. Former Crew player David Testo, who is on the board at You Can Play, came out as gay in 2011 after his career ended.

KYLE ROBERTSON DISPATCH    “I love him no matter who he is. He’s a great guy, and that’s all that matters,” Andy Gruenebaum said of ex-teammate Robbie Rogers, right.

Rogers left the Crew in 2011 after five seasons and signed with England’s Leeds United. He was on loan to League One club Stevenage, where he was reunited with Iro, before Rogers and Leeds agreed to part ways in January. The Crew traded his MLS rights to Chicago two weeks ago, along with Dilly Duka, for Dominic Oduro.

  • In a statement, the Crew lauded Rogers as a “valuable member” of the club and “a dedicated community ambassador.” Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said he was surprised by the news of his retirement but supportive of his former teammate.
  • “I love him no matter who he is,” he said. “He’s a great guy, and that’s all that matters.”

Rogers tweeted last night: “Thank you everyone for all of the support and love. Wasn’t expecting this.”

Dispatch reporter Shawn Mitchell contributed to this report.

(My Comment:   

Have no unusual revelations or observations at all on this, other than to express sadness that people of any persuasion  are made to feel “less than” others for whatever reason.  I am deeply opposed to that.  And this of course comes about because of ignorance – – how we were brought up,  what we heard, what was said.  None of us are born bigots, we have to learn that.  Nor do we seem to be born selfish – – we seem to learn that when our own needs aren’t met when we need so much – everything, and it isn’t forthcoming.  

We are who we are, and we survive by learning how to be in the world.  Our experiences teach us what works.

It will be a glorious time to live on this planet when mankind has come to understand that in fact – not just a theory, – – we are all connected.    We would understand that we can’t hurt the one without hurting us all.  We can’t hate the other without hating ourselves.   Perhaps by the time we all understand these things, we won’t be living such non-productive lives or wasting time on non-essentials. 

As to Robbie – – who could not be proud of such a sterling young man.  He has been a superb athlete, exhibiting star quality throughout.  He has been a friend to all, admired, adored and quite the hero to young would-be’s.  One can’t possibly understand the spectrum of pain Robbie has been carrying unless we have walked in those shoes.  There will be adjustments as burdens are dropped and new openness prevails – – a new equilibrium to be incorporated.     

Robbie, my money is on you,. .  .  .   I wish you deep joy,      Jan



  1. A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    There’s no doubt that that you ought to publish more on this topic, it might not be
    a taboo matter but typically people don’t discuss these subjects.
    To the next! Best wishes!!

    Comment by ลดน้ําหนัก 3 วัน — May 2, 2015 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. . . I see you are a thinking person who like so many of us are actually concerned about the ‘humanity’ in us all. I honor your ethical nature, and pleased to have you share with us. Jan

      Comment by Jan Turner — May 4, 2015 @ 1:27 am | Reply

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