Looking dapper in a tuxedo, soccer pro Robbie Rogers greeted the crowd at the 2013 Voice Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday (19 May) and thanked them for their support which he said inspired him to return to his sport.
Rogers, 25, announced his retirement in February when he came out publicly as a gay man. But in recent weeks, he has been practicing with Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.
Rogers spoke with Gay Star News about possible return which, at this point, is a bit out of his hands.
‘It’s just kind of being worked out,’ he said. ‘Chicago owns my rights and until they trade me to LA, I guess I’m owned by Chicago. It feels amazing to be back in California and obviously back on the soccer field. Just working away.’
The former midfielder for the US national team had been playing professionally in England for Leeds United. But he returned to Huntington Beach, California, earlier this year to be with his family.
That’s why playing in Chicago is not an option for him.
‘I told them I want to stay here with my family,’ he said. ‘It’s very important to me right now that I’m around my family and friends. Hopefully it works out. I think it should, it should be sorted out in the next few weeks.’
When he resumes his professional playing career, Rogers will be the first openly gay male player in the US to do so.
‘I think sports is ready, I don’t think it’s just soccer,’ he says. ‘I think our society is very much changing and I feel this very big momentum push to kind of change things in the athletic world.’
While NBA player Jason Collins came out last month via a Sports Illustrated cover story, soon appeared with Oprah Winfrey and even got a congratulatory telephone call from President Barack Obama, Rogers came out in a far more low-key manner.
He casually told his Twitter followers about a link to a blog post he had written. It was a deeply personal and heartfelt letter announcing to the world that he is gay and how he had realized ‘I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest.’
He says of Collins: ‘I definitely think it’s helped other people. For me it’s been different because I’ve kind of just done it on my own. My agent and PR people have helped me along the way but I’ve very much just gone with my gut with all this stuff. It’s about the individual.’
He adds: ‘I’m excited to get back to (playing) and I hope it kind of creates a path for other footballers, for other soccer players to do the same.’