Link to NPR Radio Michel Martin interviewing Sandip Roy:
Robbie Rogers: The History Maker
By Matthew Breen
Robbie Rogers’s journey from closeted soccer player to LGBT role model has been as dramatic as it is inspiring.
Photography by Matthias Vriens-McGrath
On February 15 of this year, at the age of 25, Robbie Rogers made a dramatic announcement on his website: He was gay, and he was quitting soccer. The two points were not unrelated — no male American athlete in a major team sport had come out while still playing professionally (although gay-friendly Sweden set a precedent when soccer player Anton Hysén came out there in 2011). Then in May, Rogers reversed course on one of those announcements and signed to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
He was no longer a gay retired soccer player; he was a history maker — just six months after coming out to his “conservative, Catholic, close-knit” family. “Growing up, I learned that being gay was a sin,” he says when we meet at Soho House in Los Angeles. “It was not something you could be, and it wasn’t something my family would talk about much — it was obviously something that scared the shit out of me.”
It’s only been a few weeks since he had his first match as an out gay player (stepping onto the field 13 minutes before the final whistle), and it’s clear that Rogers, who grew up in Orange County, has embraced his newfound role with gusto. Having played for one of the world’s most decorated teams — England’s Leeds United — as well as for the U.S. squad at the Beijing Olympics, Rogers, now 26, is in the rare position of being able to inspire young gay athletes by his example. Being invited to attend the Nike LGBT Youth Forum in Oregon in April was a wake-up call, he says. “I left the summit thinking, Come on, step up — all these kids are so excited to make a change, you should also. God’s given you the talent to be a soccer player, to be in front of people just to show them who you are.”
Who he is, who he was, and how he got from one to the other is the subject of our conversation as Rogers opens up in a candid, thoughtful interview that reflects the emotional distance he’s travelled since hitting “send” a mere five months earlier.
Out: You told one reporter you felt different around age 10, like a part of you knew.
Robbie Rogers: I felt different for a long time, but when I was 14 and going to high school, I was like, Oh, OK. This is what’s going on: I’m gay. And then it was, I’m good at soccer as well… there are no gay soccer players.
Did you keep them separate in your head?
RR: I just repressed being a gay male, as awful as that sounds. I look back now and think, Gosh, that’s sad. To think there are other kids [feeling] like that is really scary, but I just felt that soccer was so important in my life that I was willing to do it.
There must have been accomplishments that you couldn’t enjoy because you were closeted.
RR: I’d turned into a professional player — something I’d wanted my whole life — and wasn’t able to soak it in because I shut down emotionally and didn’t get to feel all of the emotions I would have as a normal person who’s happy with himself. Winning the MLS [Major League Soccer] cup, or being on the All-Star team, or going to the Olympics — those should be things you can be happy and excited about, but you’re still hiding inside yourself and you’re not comfortable in your own skin. Or moving to England and signing with Leeds, or even stuff like my sister getting married, or little birthday parties.
Playing soccer in the U.K. is very different from the U.S., right?
RR: Yeah. Imagine an American football game, but on steroids. People live and die for soccer; they breathe it. It’s insane. The club you grow up supporting, that’s the club you will do anything for — you bleed whatever colors that team is. People will say anything to the opposing team to justify… to hopefully get an edge. The fans will call you anything, say anything about your parents or whatever.
So I imagine you heard a lot of antigay–
RR: Yeah, you’d hear the most ridiculous things from kids. And the crazy part is these people aren’t homophobic, a lot of them aren’t racist. But they get into this packed stadium where they’re just trying to win and destroy people — manners and humanity are just gone.
It’s got to get into your head, thinking about coming out.
RR: The biggest thing for me was being in the locker room, again, with a group of guys. Because those are the guys you’re with every day; they become like brothers, guys that you fight and train with every day. I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was a total outcast, where people would be walking on eggshells around me, talking behind my back. They haven’t, but that possibility scared the shit out of me. It was like, I don’t want it to be like that, I don’t want to live my life that way.
Talking about the locker room, I imagine there’s talk about women and sex there. How did you feel when that happened?
RR: It was awkward. Before I became true to myself I dated girls. I very much acted the part as a straight footballer, which is pretty sad, but I felt like I had to mask that side of me. Going to Leeds was the best thing that could have happened because I was there by myself; I realized I wasn’t happy and hadn’t been happy in a long time. I didn’t want to be one of those people who are always unhappy and don’t try to change anything. I thought, Now that you’re 25, make a change because you have the power to do it. Which was obviously the best thing ever for me, because I’m actually happy.
You’ve said that before coming out you hadn’t hooked up with any guys. Have you made up for lost time?
RR: How do I answer this? I’m very conservative, but I have met some good people that I’ve hung out with. In London I dated a guy for a few months. He’s still one of my good friends, but it’s been tough to meet people in West Hollywood.
If someone wants to ask you out, what’s your advice on how to make a good impression?
RR: It bothers me when someone tries to hook me up with a friend — “You’re gay, my friend’s gay, you’re gonna love each other.” It’s like, OK, probably not. It has to happen in an organic way, where someone introduces himself and is genuine and doesn’t want to talk about soccer straight out the gate. When I started dating this guy in London, I just went up to him. I’m sure I’ll meet someone in a random place– the grocery store or wherever.
You’ve said that you wanted to be a footballer and not a spokesperson. Do you still feel that way?
RR: No, the exact opposite. I want to help people, especially kids who felt the same way I did; it makes me sick to remember the way I felt and to think that…they don’t have a choice of who they are and they feel the same way I used to feel. Now I have this platform that hopefully I can use to reach people in a positive way. This is a learning process for me, but I don’t want to give advice. I’ve just come to terms with myself, so who am I to be giving advice? I love to share my story with these kids and hang out with kids or people or grown men who are struggling, and I’m very happy that God’s given me the courage to try to help in that way.
For many people, being out is a process from acceptance to pride — it can take a while. That doesn’t seem to be the case with you.
RR: Sometimes I’ll talk to people and they’ll be like, “You must still be trying to get used to things; trying to figure things out,” and I’m like, “I don’t know, I feel quite comfortable.” Being gay doesn’t define me but it is a big part of me, and I have amazing friends that are gay men — straight friends as well, but these guys are such courageous and creative and loving people that it’s made it easier to be, like, “Of course I’m happy with who I am.” I got back from London and New York a few months back and I had dinner with my family, a simple barbeque in our house in Huntington, sitting around the table with my dog and everyone, and it was like, This is what life is like, this is what hanging out with your family is supposed to feel like. How nuts is it that for 25 years I didn’t feel that way, and then it’s, like, Gosh, Robbie, what took you so long?”
Twenty three year old Steve Grand You Tube video All American Boy is a huge viral success with over 1 million views!
Grand’s first music video cost $7000 dollars he maxed out his credit card to make it. This video is wonderful, I love it!
It is so nice to see a gay artist singing about just being in love although this song is bitter sweet the love is unrequited.
I think Steve Grand is going to have a successful music career he’s a good singer, handsome, and he seems passionate about his music.
Steve was also a model for the Australia gay Magazine DNA.
The Country Music genre is a bit conservative though, and also homophobic. It will be interesting to see where Steve Grand goes
from here, I hope he does get a record deal. Steve is handsome, I am sure gay men and also heterosexual women are going to
support him. Well done Steve!
Usually, Days of Our Lives gay couple Sonny and Will are as exciting as burnt toast. Since the beginning of 2013, the homosexuality has been toned down in order to not upset the conservative homophobic viewers for Days of Our Lives. Sonny and Will do not have a passionate relationship their romance is very PG 13, very chaste, very dry, and very boring.
Today’s episode is interesting, only because the younger cast members were on. It was nice to see Sonny, Will, Tad, Chad, and Brian together. This is what is missing, the young characters having their own storyline together. The current baby storyline is extremely homophobic and offensive. On the American soaps, gay men have to have sex with women and get them pregnant. Gay men cannot have their own storylines, their own conflict their problems must involve a female.
Brant Daugherty is a very charismatic actor, although his character Brian is supposed to be the gay villain yet he is more exciting than Sonny and Will. It appears the writers of Days of Our Lives created the character Brian to bring angst to Sonny and Will but the writers didn’t anticipate that Brian would become very popular. The reason fans love Brian is because he isn’t as vanilla and dry as Sonny and Will. Unfortunately, this episode is probably the last time Brian is going to appear on the show and that’s a shame.
My main complaint with the gay storyline, is the fact the homosexuality is treated as an afterthought as just a sub plot.
The gay storyline wasn’t written for a gay male audience there are certain things that ring false and untrue to me. For instance, Sonny and Will are monogamous. I have a hard time believing two young gay men such as Sonny and Will are not exploring their sexuality. Gay male culture is all about sexual freedom, yes there are monogamous gay male couples. The truth is though, gay men have more access to sex than heterosexual men. Gay male culture is ignored by Days of Our Lives there is no discussion about condom use, or about safer sex.
Sonny and Will are not allowed to have sex with each other, so of course they can’t have sex with anyone else. People argue that that the Days of Our Lives writers are trying to illustrate a young gay male couple can have a romantic relationship. However, the truth is, Sonny and Will were created for a heterosexual female audience not a gay male audience.
The paucity of sex scenes, the inability for Sonny and Will to cheat on each other is not only unrealistic it also does not allow them to have character development.
It is pathetic in the year 2013, that there is this homophobic double standard that all the straight characters can have sex scenes but not the gays.
If NBC was really dedicated to the gay romance, they would have multiple gay characters on the show like other soaps. For instance, the British soap Hollyoaks has several gay characters all of them are interesting, exciting and also very flawed. The gays in Hollyoaks cause disruption, drama, and trouble.
I was hoping that Brian could have caused Sonny and Will a lot of chaos and havoc. NBC, wants their queers to be safe, and friendly and drama free.
In this episode, it is the conclusion of the sub plot that isn’t even a gay love triangle because NBC is too afraid to allow the gay characters to be extremely flawed people. Sonny and Brian never had sex together because NBC is too chaste with their gay characters. Since there is a paucity of gay characters on Days of Our Lives, Sonny and Will don’t interact with people around their age and they don’t have much to do.
Since Sonny and Will are not permitted to be complex like the heterosexual characters their relationship rings false. Sonny and Will are the most boring gay male couple I have ever seen on television. I’ve watched a bunch of gay male romances and I can honestly say Sonny and Will are one of the worst I’ve ever seen.
There are several problems I will identify about the difficulties I see with Sonny and Will. First, is the dialogue, the way how the NBC writers have written Sonny and Will they call each other “dude” and “man” gay men we don’t talk like that. Sonny and Will do not talk like a gay male couple they talk like a bunch of college frat guys.
It seems to me, the NBC writers are trying to make Sonny and Will as heterosexual as possible. Sonny and Will hardly kiss and when they do kiss I don’t believe they are in love. The actors Chandler Massey and Freddie Smith are solid actors they are capable of angst. However, in terms of the sexual aspect of Sonny and Will’s relationship the acting is very poor. The lack of intimacy between Sonny and Will makes it painfully obvious that NBC is not interested in treating the gay characters with respect.
Second, The heterosexual characters such as Sami & EJ, Rafe & Kate, Gabi & Nick, Brady & Kristen have had multiple sex scenes in a bed. The straight sex scenes are very passionate, they get to roll around in bed together, and moan and make love. By contrast, Sonny and Will everything is alluded to, there was one brief scene this year in bed. The problem is, it wasn’t a sex scene it was an afterglow scene. Every time Sonny and Will want to be intimate they are always interrupted!
For instance, during the kissing scenes Chandler and Freddie smash their lips together the kissing is closed mouthed. Adult gay men don’t kiss like pre teens! There is no open mouth kissing between Sonny and Will. Chandler Massey seems extremely uncomfortable kissing Freddie Smith his face is wrinkled and he looks very cautious and hesitant. Chandler and Freddie don’t have chemistry together there is no spark between their characters Will and Sonny.
Meanwhile, when Brant Daugherty the guy who plays Brian when he kisses Freddie Smith their kissing scenes are very passionate and seem more realistic. The chemistry between Brant and Freddie seems more natural. Sonny and Brian have a lot of chemistry together but they aren’t endgame.
Third, The gay storyline is in desperate need of another gay couple in order to keep Sonny and Will interesting. Why don’t Sonny and Will interact more with young gay men around their age? Why has there never been a gay bar scene? Why doesn’t Salem have a gay bathhouse? The gay aspect of Sonny and Will’s lives are ignored.
Brian is exciting because he’s a confident, openly gay, and masculine man. In this episode, the writers are attempting to make Will and Sonny look like a strong loving couple while Brian is the evil interloper. However, Brian never really did anything wrong except fall for Sonny. Sonny admits to giving Brian mixed signals that he’s interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him. Brian had a lot of potential to be a very interesting gay male character but NBC isn’t interested in that.
The problem with today’s scene is there wasn’t any build up to Sonny and Will telling Brian to back off. Brian never forced or pushed Sonny to make out with him a few months ago and almost sleep with him.
The interesting thing is, on the internet many people are vocal that the characters Brian and Sonny have more sexual chemistry than Sonny and Will. A lot of the comments about Sonny and Will are that they are a “cute” gay couple but they aren’t a passionate gay couple. Sonny and Will are adults, yet the writers have written these adult gay male characters as though they are some NBC after school special.
The NBC writers for Days of Our Lives seem determined to utilize the gay characters to “educate” the homophobes that gay people can have boring vanilla relationships too. On the Facebook page for Days of Our Lives, the homophobic people have complained about the gay storyline and yet I wonder what are these people upset about? Sonny and Will hardly kiss, they don’t have sex, they don’t do anything interesting at all!
The quandary is, Sonny and Will’s relationship comes across as a friendship not as an adult sexual relationship. Since Sonny and Will are not allowed to have passionate sex scenes like the heterosexual characters on Days of Our Lives the audience has to use our imagination.
On Days of Our Lives, Sonny and Will have only had one sex scene on November 14th 2012, and the kissing between Chandler Massey and Freddie Smith is awful and awkward.
I think I am going to tune out from watching Days of Our Lives now there is no reason for me to watch anymore. The good thing is, on You Tube there are numerous gay storylines from across the world I can watch.
NBC doesn’t have the courage, or the interest to treat their gay male characters with the same kind of respect as their heterosexual characters. Gay people don’t have sex on Days of Our Lives, gay people don’t have romance, and that’s just not good entertainment.
According to former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, we could see a gay NFL player “sooner than you think.” There could be as many as four announcements from players around the league, all on the same day.
Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was released by Baltimore this offseason, and on the heels of comments earlier this week where he suggested that he was cut in part because of his outspoken stance on gay rights and equality issues, Ayanbadejo clarified himself to the Baltimore Sun on Friday. During an hour-long interview he made it clear that he harbors no resentment for the Ravens, and respects them for the support they offered him throughout his career both on and off the field. But that’s not all.
When the conversation turned to his work with gay rights and the question of when we might see an openly gay player in the NFL, Ayanbadejo had this to say:
“I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo said. “We’re in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they’re trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.”
Ayanbadejo’s release not related to advocacy
The 36-year old linebacker says he was misquoted in a report claiming his release was related to his stance on gay rights. He took to Twitter to defend his former team.
In other words, everyone prepare themselves for the most insane day of the NFL offseason in human history. A day to make the sports world explode, basically.
And it would be awesome.
The one reason to worry about an NFL player coming out as gay would be the inevitable avalanche of horrible jokes, hateful responses, and insane scrutiny, all directed at one human being. Nobody deserves that, and it would be ugly. But as Ayanbadejo says, “If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive.”
In addition to muting the backlash toward any one player, four players coming out in four different cities — AT THE SAME DAMN TIME — would get all kinds of love and support, too, spreading the acceptance around the country, making this a more universal sign of progress in the NFL and the sports world, in general.
“It’s cool. It’s exciting,” says Ayanbadejo of the possibility. “We’re in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We’ll see what happens.” Yes we will.
Robbie Rogers came out of the closet last month and recently he conducted two interviews with the Guardian and the New York Times. Rogers gave very candid answers he acknowledged that he retired from soccer because he believes he cannot be openly gay and compete. However, on numerous gay websites such as Outsports.com, Queerty, Towleroad, gay men have attacked Rogers calling him a coward. What right do people have to make Robbie Rogers into something he doesn’t want to be? The pressure for a gay male athlete to become the gay Jackie Robinson is a lot of pressure.
How can gay men call Rogers a coward when gay men we know how hard it is to come out? The crabs in the barrel syndrome is so common in the gay community it is disgusting!
Rogers also stated that since he came out no closeted gay male soccer players have emailed him or contacted him he was disappointed. The fear the gay male athletes have in professional sports is very real.
The mainstream media, are very politically correct, everyone is saying the right things, that the time is right for a gay male athlete to come out in a team sport. However, if the time is right why hasn’t anyone done it? Why? Why is it in the year 2013, no professional male athlete has come out in the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, golf, tennis, soccer? If society is so progressive as people say why is there still this intense fear that the closeted gay male athletes have?
According to Rogers, he only came out to his family in October 2012. The young man is clearly still struggling to accept his homosexuality. In the New York Times, Rogers says he doesn’t go to gay bars and he doesn’t pick up men. Rogers seems brand new, he is still trying to make sense of his life as an openly gay man. Rogers is also a Catholic, his family is very religious.
The gay community we are our own worst enemy. Some gay people place so much expectations on gay celebrities to be role models to push the gay movement forward. Yet some gay and lesbian people, don’t care to understand some gay stars don’t want to be spokespersons for the movement.
For instance, Jodie Foster the Academy award-winning lesbian actress refuses to be a gay role model and I applaud Foster’s decision. Foster is a very private woman, and she’s living her life on her own terms not for the gay community but for herself. In Robbie Roger’s case, he knows more about the homophobia in professional soccer than the general public. Rogers says the straight male soccer players are hypocritical, on the one hand they claim to support Rogers yet he says they also make gay jokes in the change room.
I think people expect too much from gay celebrities, we place our goals, dreams, and aspirations on these people yet we forget they are people too. Robbie Rogers has done a lot of good just by coming out. If Rogers doesn’t want to compete in professional soccer again it is his personal choice. No one has the right to lecture to Rogers that he must become the gay Jackie Robinson. Rogers is cognizant, he will be subjected to homophobia from fans, and perhaps even other soccer players if he competed again. Rogers feels he can’t handle dealing with gay slurs and negativity when he is competing. Rogers is being honest, he probably doesn’t want to be placed on to a pedestal and have the media put so much scrutiny on him. The pressure to be perfect would be overwhelming.
Time Magazine’s cover with two gay and lesbian couples kissing might appear progressive but is it really? Unfortunately, Time Magazine is still engendering the myopic image that to be gay or lesbian still means to be white. Why didn’t Time Magazine consider having an African American gay couple, or an Asian American lesbian couple or an interracial homosexual couple on the cover?
I believe a Time Magazine cover with gay people of colour would be more powerful because it would symbolize that gay marriage rights in America isn’t just a white gay issue.
This image is just the status quo, it doesn’t challenge anything it simply reinforces the white gay and lesbian image. Why would communities of colour care about gay rights or same sex marriage when the representation of homosexuality in the public sphere is always about white homosexuals?
I notice, there isn’t anyone with a disability on the cover? Are all gay and lesbian people able bodied?
Another thing, I noticed is why are the gay and lesbian couples on the cover young people? So only younger people under forty can be gay? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if a senior citizen gay or lesbian couple was on the cover? This cover is very disappointing because it treats gay rights as a young white person’s issue. The image of homosexuality in pop culture is very myopic and it excludes so many people.
On March 15th 2013, Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz won his second professional boxing match since coming out as a gay man. Cruz defeated Aalan Martinez with a knockout in the sixth round. Cruz is currently the only professional male athlete out of the closet in North America. Now think about it, no gay male athlete is out in the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL, they are all in the closet. No professional golfer or male tennis pro is out! So why are the vast majority of gay male athletes in pro sports not coming out?
There are numerous theories for the reasons gay male athletes in professional sports choose to remain closeted. The obvious one is money, some gay male athletes probably fear coming out means they might lose sponsorship deals. Another reason is, gay male athletes worry the media scrutiny might be intense and they lose their privacy. Some people believe sexuality is a private matter.
In professional sports, it is obvious heterosexuality is not only present it is engendered in the media. The media obsess over the heterosexual pro athletes love lives in the press. However, homosexuality is still treated as though it should be private and not public. Gay people should not feel ashamed about being gay and that’s why Orlando Cruz is a hero! Orlando Cruz is illustrating through competing active in boxing he’s a proud gay man and that takes a lot of guts.
The general public and the media are cognizant that there are gay men in pro sports yet these men are reticent to reveal their sexuality.
Last month, Robbie Rogers a professional American soccer player did come out of the closet but he also quit at the tender age of twenty five. Rogers wrote an eloquent essay on his blog about the struggles he had to deal with in his life. Rogers has stepped away from professional soccer.
However, Orlando Cruz is out and a proud gay man he’s competing in boxing yet he’s not getting the press coverage he deserves.
One argument is, it is easier for Orlando Cruz to come out because boxing is an individual sport but it wasn’t easy for him at all. Cruz came out after getting the support of his mother, his trainers, and he did it for himself to live his life on his own terms. Cruz has a tremendous amount of courage and mental strength to come out and compete professionally in boxing.
So, why isn’t Orlando Cruz on the cover of the gay magazines or mainstream publications? Is it an issue of race? Is it because Cruz isn’t white? Is it because Cruz is a boxer and not competing in a professional team sport?
The image of the gay man in mainstream North America is a very myopic one. Usually, the stereotypical image is of a young, white, middle to upper class college educated white homosexual man. Television shows like Glee and Modern Family engender this white gay male image.
Orlando Cruz isn’t the first gay man to come out in professional sports but he’s one of the few to come out while his career is still active. It is important to point out, gay male athletes usually come out after their career ends because they have nothing to lose.
Cruz deserves so much credit because he as a Latino gay man he is challenging the homophobia within his own community and the boxing community.
It is disappointing though, that Cruz despite his success isn’t getting the media coverage he deserves due to his race and cultural background.
Cruz is a real hero because he knows there are homophobes in the boxing community who resent the fact he’s openly gay yet he isn’t hiding in the closet.
Boxing is a very macho sport, Orlando Cruz is a hero to the Puerto Rican community he is smashing the stereotypes that a gay man cannot be masculine, strong, and be a good athlete. Cruz is also a very successful boxer. However, Orlando Cruz isn’t white he’s Latino. The mainstream and gay press seem to want the gay Jackie Robinson to be a white gay man not a gay man of colour.
The Story Behind The Split
[Blind Gossip] People are sad over this attractive couple’s split. Let’s clarify a few things about their relationship.
First of all, they were never a real couple. However, they really were friends with one another.
Secondly, the arrangement worked so well over time, that they actually thought about making it more permanent.
Thirdly, they broke up very suddenly, but it was not because of a conflict between the man and the woman. The real conflict was between the man and the woman’s brother. That’s right! The guy didn’t really break up with her. He was actually breaking up with her brother! She was just a casualty of the fallout.
Why did they break up? One guy heard that the other betrayed him (we don’t know if it was true or not). The breakup followed very quickly after that. It was very sudden and very ugly.
Finally, all three in this relationship are adults and are professionals in the industry, so we think that there is a zero out of ten chance that any details of their relationship or their breakup will ever be made public.
Guy: Ryan Seacrest
Gal: Julianne Hough
Gal’s Brother: Derek Hough
Clue: ‘zero out of ten’ chance – refers to the Dancing with the Stars scoring system.
Everyone knows Ryan Seacrest is gay he isn`t fooling anyone. It is sad though that Ryan and Derek Hough feel the need to hide their gay relationship by getting Julianne involved. Ryan Seacrest is a television host I doubt it would hurt his career if he came out. Derek Hough is a dancer, nobody would be surprised if he came out of the closet