When Robbie Rogers came out as gay almost two years ago and temporarily retired, he was expecting only bad things to happen. The biggest surprise was how wrong he was, the L.A. Galaxy player says in an interview with the Los Angeles Times promoting his book, "Coming Out to Play."
"Everything that I thought was going to happen didn't happen. I was afraid to come out to my family, and they were very supportive. I was afraid then to come out to the public, and the reaction I received from all over the world, from straight people, from gay people, from the young and the old, was so supportive. ...
"I wasn't expecting support like this. I wasn't expecting my family to say, "Robbie, we love you so much. This isn't an issue. Let's figure out how we're going to work through this, communicate and be happy." That and the response from people. I never thought in a million years that I would come out and then go back to play soccer."
Rogers hit on the single biggest issue keeping people from coming out in sports -- fear of what will happen -- and nothing bad happened to him. I hope others can take heart in knowing that as long as they control their coming out narrative, it will likely be a liberating experience and not something to fear.
The whole interview is worthwhile for Rogers' insights on why athletes stay closeted, but I found this answer to the biggest challenge to be quite compelling:
Q: What have you found to be the most challenging thing since coming out?
A: The most challenging thing for me is that I am a 27-year-old man who hasn't been able to live a lot of the experiences that I would have experienced had I come out at the age of 15 or 16. Going on first dates, bringing their first boyfriend back to their house - all the things that people get to go through the awkwardness of in their teenage years.
What Rogers talks about is universal to people who come out in their 20s and beyond. Straight people get to stumble and bumble with the opposite sex in the dating world while teenagers, and even then most screw it up. It becomes that much harder as you get older and it's a great point Rogers makes and one that really showed insight.
Rogers and his Galaxy teammates are celebrating a spot in Major League Soccer's championship, something he could not have imagined the day he came out.