Robbie Rogers needs to be brave again on another freezing morning in east London. Even walking down the stairs to open the big black door to his apartment takes courage – for this is how the next stage begins. Once the door swings open he will be back on an emotionally bruising ride into the open.
It helps that, last month, Rogers told the world the truth about himself in 408 crisp words which, on his website, confirmed that, “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.”
Rogers, who has represented the United States in 18 international football matches, was signed by Leeds United in January 2012. His time at the club was blighted by injury but he played briefly for Leeds and this season, on loan, for Stevenage. He left Leeds “by mutual consent” three months ago.
Rogers then became only the second gay footballer in Britain to come out in public. Justin Fashanu, his solitary predecessor, hanged himself in 1998 in Shoreditch, just a short walk from where Rogers now lives.
“Secrets can cause so much internal damage,” Rogers wrote. “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.”
Rogers, from a close-knit conservative Christian family in America, has kept the world at a safe distance since coming out. He has been besieged with large offers of money for interviews and contracts, as well as moving emails from thousands of people who have thanked him or asked how they might uncover the truth about themselves. Rogers has turned down every money-man; but he has written to some ordinary people. Today marks a big step forward for himself and, as he says, “people like me.”
[ Read the rest of the story at Robbie Rogers: why coming out as gay meant I had to leave football | Football | The Guardian. ]