Robbie Rogers, an openly gay player with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, said he was called a "queer" by a player from the Orange County Blues on Saturday during a minor league game. He did not name the player.
Rogers, who is rehabbing from an ankle injury, was on the field for L.A. Galaxy II, the reserve team for the Galaxy. His team played the Blues in Irvine, Calif. Both teams play in the United Soccer League, basically a minor league of some MLS clubs and a place where injured players often go to get in game shape before being called up to their MLS team.
Here is what Rogers posted today on Facebook:
After being out injured for two months with an Achilles surgery I finally made my return last night.
In the heat of the last fifteen minutes of the game a player from the opposing team called me a "queer" repeatedly. To be honest my initial reaction was one of shock. This is my fourth season back in the MLS and I've yet to hear another player use that or any other gay slur during a game. I quickly became enraged, I spent the drive home wishing I had channeled my inner Zidane and punched or head-butted this player even though I knew punching this person wouldn't have helped either of us, my team, or the greater cause of advancing equality in sports. I went to bed upset last night. Angry at this player and and his ignorance. Angry at myself for not doing more in the moment. Sad the we still live in a time where this kind of intolerance still exists in my sport and elsewhere. And if I'm being honest, I was even a bit ashamed that a single word could make me feel, even just for a moment, all the awful feelings I felt for so many years: small, less than, wrong, and unworthy of love and respect by my family or god forbid by my teammates.
But it was just for a moment.
Minutes later my head was back in the game. And this morning even most of the anger has faded and the predominant emotions left are just love and gratitude. I'm happy that I practiced restraint worthy of my sport. I'm thankful for the many players on my team and even the opposing one who apologized to me for one man's actions. Today, I woke up grateful to work in organization filled with so many players and coaches who have worked hard to practice tolerance of everyone and to help change a culture.
But mostly I'm proud of myself. I am proud more than ever that I had the courage to come out as a queer man. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to share my story with others and to have gotten to play this sport I love so much as an openly gay person. I am, more than ever, thankful to have teammates and a family that love and support me for the son, brother, partner, father and queer player that I am.
I'm encouraging, as I did when I came out four years ago, all athletes to find the courage within themselves to come out. Listen, only you know when and how it's best for you to live your truth and share your story, but each one of you that chooses to make this courageous step is not just vastly improving your own life but literally saving others.
There is no doubt that this will be investigated by the United Soccer League and the MLS will likely get involved since this involves one of their players. Rogers joined the Galaxy in 2013 as an openly gay player and said he has not heard any slurs from other MLS players.
It took playing in a minor league for someone to target him for his sexual orientation and that player needs to be suspended for a long time if what Rogers said is true. It is admirable that he restrained himself from physically attacking the player, though the temptation was surely there.
I'll give the last word to Matt Hatzke, a former MLS player who came out as gay after retiring. He shared Rogers' post with this comment: "Powerful. Pure class. Proud. But there is still progress to be made." He ended his post with a rainbow icon and a heart.