Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy for Rogers, Sad for Sam and Others

I'm happy for Robbie Rogers. 

I know I can never fully realize what he went through, hiding his true self for years and years, fearing a lack of acceptance in the profession he loved, but it seems like it would be an enormous relief to finally be true to who you really are. 

That big step of coming out for Rogers came along with his withdrawal from professional soccer, but he eventually returned to the game, playing for the LA Galaxy. Now he plays professionally, has his own book, business and boyfriend. His life seems pretty good. Rogers, who in my experience has always been quietly polite, deserves it. 

Rogers remains the only openly gay pro team sports player actually still playing. 

I believe that's at least partly cultural. In many minority communities, homosexuality is a big stigma. It makes me sad to think that there are likely gay athletes in Hispanic, African-American and Asian communities playing team sports, not just soccer, who are probably terrified of the reaction from family and friends if they ever found out. These players can take some courage from Rogers, no doubt, but they probably also think, "He's different. He doesn't know what it's like where I come from." 

Not many athletes have the luxury to be prepared to walk away like Rogers. Many count on their careers to provide a livelihood for their families. Anything that would interfere with marketability is avoided. Many fear the negative consequences.

Rogers himself believed more athletes would come out after his announcement. The fact that it didn't happen indicates their fear is real. 

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