Posted February 15, 2013

American Soccer Player Robbie Rogers Comes Out, Retires With Powerful Statement

The U.S. national team veteran announces that he's a gay man

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Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Robbie Rogers, a veteran of the U.S. men’s national team, Leeds United and the Columbus Crew, posted an announcement on his personal website Friday that appears to announce his retirement and coming out as a gay man. A portion of his statement is excerpted here:

Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.

Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.

I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.

Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.

The 25-year-old Rogers most recently played for Stevenage in England’s League One, on loan from Leeds, having earned 18 caps as a winger for the national team.

He led the University of Maryland to the 2005 NCAA title in his one and only season in College Park, attracting the attention of the Dutch club Heerenveen, with whom he signed his first professional contract in August 2006. Two years later, Rogers helped the Crew to their first and only MLS Cup.

Several of Rogers’ national team brethren posted tweets of respect and encouragement following the California native’s announcement.

While the language of the’ announcement is (perhaps intentionally) unclear as to whether Rogers is retirement is permanent, a line near the end of Kevin Baxter’s reaction for the Los Angeles Times lays bare a notable truth: “No active U.S. player in a major professional team sport has continued to play after coming out as gay.”

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