Robbie Rogers lifted a giant weight from his shoulders Friday morning. The former (for now) US national team attacker came out of the closet, penning a moving and heartfelt post on his personal blog, and announced that he's stepping away from the game for an indefinite period of time.
Coming out of the closet is fraught, especially in the testosterone driven world of men's professional sports. We saw a slice of that in the lead-up to this year's Super Bowl, when San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said a gay player wouldn't be accepted in the locker room. And we've all heard words we wish we hadn't in the stands, be it football, baseball, hockey or basketball.
And, of couse, we had our own moments here in MLS last season, when two players were suspended for using a gay slur on the playing field. Both – Colin Clark, now with the LA Galaxy, and Marc Burch of the Seattle Sounders – apologized profusely. Both showed remorse, and did volunteer work aimed toward promoting tolerance and understanding.
Their mistakes helped shed more light on the challenges gay athletes face. And Burch – who still has one game to go on his suspension from last season – was one of the first to take to Twitter to show his support for Rogers:
@robbierogers much love to you Robbie!— Marc Burch (@Marc_Burch) February 15, 2013
Pretty much the rest of MLS and US soccer - including Clark - soon followed:
The courage @robbierogers has shown coming out is of the class most men can only dream of. I was lucky to call him a teammate.— Colin Clark (@cOlin_cLark11) February 15, 2013
I hope his bravery helps pave a path for others to know they don't need to hide— Colin Clark (@cOlin_cLark11) February 15, 2013
Much love and respect to my boy @robbierogers ! Proud to be your friend bro— Stuart Holden (@stuholden) February 15, 2013
I hope the international soccer community shows nothing but support for Robbie Rogers. #Respect— Jeb Brovsky (@JebBrovsky) February 15, 2013
Much respect @robbierogers. Nothing but support for you— Chris Pontius (@ChrisPontius13) February 15, 2013
100 percent love and support for one of my best friends Robbie Rogers. You will be missed on the pitch. Amazing talent, amazing person.— Sacha Kljestan (@SachaKljestan) February 15, 2013
Hey @robbierogers, you are the shit. That is all.— Jimmy Conrad (@JimmyConrad) February 15, 2013
@robbierogers good for you man! All the best! Terps— AJ DeLaGarza (@AJD_20) February 15, 2013
@robbierogers Really proud of you bro! See you soon— Charlie Davies (@CharlieDavies9) February 15, 2013
@robbierogers proud of you fam!— Heath Pearce (@HeathGPearce) February 15, 2013
@robbierogers proud of u buddy. Hope u only retire of ur over soccer and want to pursue other interests.— Carlos Bocanegra (@BocaBoca3) February 15, 2013
We'll leave it to US national team and Seattle Sounders legend Kasey Keller to sum it up:
The bravery of Robbie Rogers in commendable, I hope he realizes that he doesn't need to retire.He will be more supported than he knows.— Kasey Keller (@KaseyKeller18) February 15, 2013
Indeed he will. And the same goes for whoever is next to open the closet door.