Robbie Rogers retires from LA Galaxy, disappointed other players haven’t come out of closet

CARSON — Robbie Rogers — the first openly gay male to play in a major professional team sport in the U.S. — had hoped that when he retired, other Major League Soccer players would come out.

Rogers, 30, announced his retirement from the LA Galaxy and professional soccer last week, but, since 2013, when Rogers came out of the closet, no other gay men in any of the five major professional sports leagues have made similar announcements.

NO OTHER PLAYERS CAME OUT

Rogers is displeased that the closets are still crowded.

“I am definitely disappointed,” Rogers told the Los Angeles Times. “I was hoping that by the time I retired there would be a few at least in MLS that had come out.”

11-YEAR CAREER

Rogers, who was born in Huntington Beach and grew up in Ranchos Palos Verdes, had an 11-year professional career in England, the Netherlands and the U.S., including the past five years with the Galaxy. Rogers also won Major League Soccer titles in 2008 and 2014.

Rogers, who was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2015, missed the entire 2017 season due to nerve damage suffered in his left foot during an offseason surgery.

MARRYING GREG BERLANTI

Rogers hasn’t announced his post-soccer plans, except his marriage next month to his boyfriend of four years, producer Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash”). The couple have an adopted 21-month-old son, Caleb.

Rogers proclaimed his retirement November 7, and also went to social media. On his Instagram account, Rogers said his happiest days as a Galaxy player “are the ones where I could walk through the stadium at the end of games down the tunnel to my partner and son waiting for me at the other end.

“And my only regret in my eleven year career are the years I spent in the closet,” he said. “I wish I could have found the courage that so many young individuals have shared with me in the past five years to live honestly and openly as a gay person.”

TIME TO RETIRE

Rogers retirement comes on the heels of his eighth operation, which he said was time to call it a day.

“I’ve played professionally for 11 years, and I’ve accomplished pretty much everything that I want to accomplish. The last five years especially have been so rewarding for me,” Rogers told LA Galaxy Insider.

“I’m also thinking about my body. I’ve had eight surgeries. I told myself that I’d had enough with my body,” he said. “I felt like this was the perfect time for me to step away.”

LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers –
the first openly gay male to play in a major professional team sport in the U.S. – has retired from professional soccer. He made the announcement last week. Photo: LA Galaxy.

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBT community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBT students.