The first openly gay soccer player wrote a letter to his 14-year-old self to encourage other closeted athletes to come out; in a feature for ESPN The Magazine, Robbie Rogers told his younger self, “God made you this way for a reason,” and that everything will be okay.
“I know I said I wouldn’t tell you what your future holds, but I will tell you that everything’s going to be fine—one day you’ll be happier than you ever thought possible,” he continued.
The magazine recruited Rogers and eleven other athletes to participate in the campaign.
“When guys say things in the locker room, remind yourself that most of them don’t actually feel this way. They aren’t really homophobic. These are people who are trying to please others, or think that’s what they’re supposed to say,” Rogers wrote.
“Everyone is dealing with something whether they’re gay or straight. You don’t have to feel like you’re alone. Which brings me to this: If there’s any great advice I can give you, it’s to find someone you can speak to about what you’re feeling inside, someone you can trust who won’t judge or expose you. Because you can’t walk around with a burden like the one you’re carrying. You’ve got to share this with somebody.”
In February, Rogers came out and simultaneously retired as one of the first openly gay athletes from any of the four major sports leagues in America. He came out of retirement after NBA player Jason Collins came out in April through a first-person essay in Sports Illustrated.
Revealing his secret on CBS This Morning, Rogers discusses the difficulty of suppressing his sexuality, and later finding the support was amazing after he came out.
“I definitely know things will change. Once athletes figure out or realize that they won’t be treated any differently, and that they’ll be judged on their performance just like any athlete, then I think they’ll all feel free to be open with people,” said the Los Angeles Galaxies second striker.
As the Supreme Court struck down DOMA on June 26, Rogers took to his Twitter and expressed his joy.
“Just woke up. Love what I’m waking up to #DOMADead #hegone,” Rogers tweeted that Wednesday.