Soccer player Robbie Rogers and NBA player Jason Collins gave the opening remarks at this year’s Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) Respect Awards on October 18 in Los Angeles.
During his speech, Rogers discussed coming out. “I remember I told my mom when I was living in London on Skype, and I started crying and she was like ‘it doesn’t matter, I love you okay. So what’s next?” Rogers said.
GLSEN’s main objective is to assure that members of every school community are treated with respect regardless of orientation or gender expression.
Rogers addressed his own experiences, both in his career and in his school environment growing up:
One of the things I learned early in school is what happens to people who are different. As I grew up and began to understand how I am, I was consumed by fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my team mates wouldn’t accept me, so I lived with the secret that I’m gay—obviously.
As my career moved forward and took me across the world, that fear traveled with me. Every time I heard homophobic outbursts from teammates it took me right back to high school and that fear of people learning that I’m different.
So when I came out earlier this year, I knew that I had to use this platform that soccer had given me to change schools, and that led me to GLSEN. I wish I had been brave enough to get involved with this incredible organization when I was in school.
During the event, Lionsgate was honored with the Chairman’s Award and actor Jim Parsons with his boyfriend Todd Spiewak received the Inspiration Award. Writer and producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason won the Lifetime Achievement Award.