The NBA’s Jason Collins and NFL hopeful Michael Sam may be getting the attention in recent weeks but it was a year ago this month that soccer pro Robbie Rogers came out publicly as gay.
Rogers, 26, simultaneously announced his retirement from his sport but changed his mind by spring and was signed by the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.
He became the first openly gay player in MLS history.
‘My thing was that I was done and I was going to [come out] on my own terms, away from a football club,’ Rogers says in an April cover story for Attitude Magazine.
‘I was going to take some time to myself and no-one was going to try and persuade me to do that while I was back in football and no-one was going to persuade me to do it in any other way.’
The 26 year old reveals for the first time the toll being closeted had on him emotionally.
‘Definitely in my career there were so many times when I struggled with my mental health,’ he said. ‘That affected the way I played.’
While coming out did not end up ending his career and has, in fact, made him a celebrity, Rogers has not lost sight of the fact that there is still so far to go around the world when it comes to LGBTI equality.
‘For younger people that are closeted and they see that it’s illegal to be gay in Qatar, then they know that the World Cup’s going to be there and maybe they’re football fans? That’s so damaging on their psyche, on their mental health.’