Friday, February 15, 2013

Robbie Rogers, Rest in Peace

Robbie Rogers has published a blog post declaring that he is gay. At the same time, he has decided, for the present at least, to take a break from the sport to which he has dedicated almost his entire life. 

I can't really imagine what it must be like to wake up every morning and determine to live yet another day in a cocoon  of other people's expectations. I don't know what it is to fear a lack of acceptance if the careful illusion presented to others is ever shattered. Sure, we all lie a little, saying, "I'm fine," when it's not really so, perhaps, but on such a fundamental level, to daily deny the truth of one's own desire to love openly and honestly? It's got to be incredibly difficult, soul-churning stuff. 

It's also probably completely exhausting. 

Rogers spoke of happy memories in the game - I know he had them, because I was there for a few, including the MLS Cup the Columbus Crew won in Los Angeles. Besides his talent as a player, Rogers was a pretty well-spoken player in interviews, though at the same time, a bit aloof and guarded.  I never thought much of it, but can speculate now that he had to constantly be on his guard.

Perhaps Rogers would have continued to expend the energy to hide his truth had his career taken other turns. While he is rightly to be commended on courageously going public, there's a sad mixed message going out due to his apparently stalled playing career.

There has yet to be a professional athlete in the men's game to say, "I'm gay, and it doesn't matter. My game is unaffected, my teammates are accepting, and people should learn that this supposed taboo is just an anachronism." 

It might be a chicken-egg argument of, "Well, no one CAN say it, BECAUSE no one has said it before, and who wants to risk a thriving career on what might happen if they did say it?" 

What's crazy is the notion that there aren't more players like Rogers getting up every day with a sigh, going to work on the sport they love, and pulling a double-shift hiding at the same time. They're out there, of course, and perhaps yes, the mainly positive response to Rogers has encouraged them a bit. 

Or maybe they're mad. 

Maybe some of them are thinking, "Damn! So close - this guy could have been the one to show that orientation doesn't affect quality of play." 

Of course, they could be 'that guy', too. No one should expect from someone else what they themselves aren't willing to risk.

Rogers has done what he feels capable of - maybe that's all he has in him now. 

"Secrets can cause so much internal damage," Rogers wrote. He also told how he now felt free.

Rest, and hopefully, restoration, will follow.