First Openly Gay Soccer Player Gets Ovation on Field


Robbie Rogers Signed with Los Angeles Galaxy

In February, soccer player Robbie Rogers announced on a blog post that he was gay.  Following that big news, he decided to step away from the game.  He could not imagine that he could be himself on and off the field.

Fans Prove Rogers Wrong

However, on May 26th, Rogers, 24, walked onto the soccer field to a loud ovation to play on the LA Galaxy’s team against the Seattle Sojourners for a 4-0 victory.  A mid-fielder, formerly with the Columbus Crew, he had trained on the field as a youth.

During March, in Portland, Oregon, Rogers spoke to a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teenagers.  After that experience, Rogers realized that playing soccer not only fulfilled him, but also offered him an opportunity to do something more.”

“That Nike camp made me feel a little soft,” he said. “It taught me I needed to man up a little bit.  It’s easy to play a sport that you love and be a role model for people.  It’s a perfect situation for me.”  Now, Rogers realizes that he was too apprehensive about the effects of his coming out. “Oh, my gosh, so much easier,” he reported. ”That’s the no.1 lesson of all this.  I don’t know what I was so worried about.”

Those Who Egged Rogers to Return to Soccer

Rogers was encouraged to return to his sport by his agent and former teammates and friends. With N.B.A. player Jason Collins’s coming out last month, along with the release of “42,” a movie about Jackie Robinson, Rogers felt compelled to play soccer again.  He was granted permission to work out with the Galaxy, his hometown team. A talented wing who almost made the 2020 World Cup Team, Rogers said he would return to Major League Soccer only if he could play for Galaxy, near his hometown in Huntington Beach, California.

Rogers’s Effect on the Field

Galaxy initiated discussions with the Chicago Fire, who held Rogers’s rights.  A trade was made with Chicago native, Mike Magee, Galaxy’s lead soccer goal scorer.  According to Jim Buzinski, founder of which tracks gay sports issues, while” Rogers’s gay legacy will be significant –he’ll go down in history as the first to play in a game, but if this were the Spanish League, the English Premier League or the Bundesliga, there would be more impact.  That’s where the best players in his sports are, not the M.L.S.”

Despite several Galaxy players’ opinions that Rogers would have no problems on the field from other players, the league has suspended and fined players for using homophobic slurs twice in the last two months.

Commented Galaxy star Landon Donovan:  “everyone wants it to go a certain way on the field, but in my opinion it’s already a success whether he plays 1 minute or 1,000 minutes or 10,000 minutes. It’s already a big step in the right direction for our society as a whole.  I’m proud to be part of it.”