Los Angeles • Robbie Rogers is joining the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer in another step by openly gay athletes in professional sports.
He told The Associated Press his fears about returning to soccer were eased by the strong support he received from family, fans and players, including Galaxy star Landon Donovan. Now Rogers is ready to accept his role as the league’s first openly gay player.
"I don’t know what I was so afraid of," Rogers said Friday. "It’s been such a positive experience for me. The one thing I’ve learned from all of this is being gay is not that big of a deal to people."
"People are just really growing and accepting and loving," he added. "Those other things are just not that important to them. I think as the younger get older and the generations come and go, I think times are just becoming more accepting."
Last month, NBA veteran Jason Collins came out, and Rogers spoke with Collins on the day of the center’s announcement.
"I would have thought more athletes would have taken that step, I guess," Rogers said. "People have seen how accepting everyone has been of Jason’s and my story. I think it’s going to take just more time and more athletes coming out. It’s all about seeing that it’s not something to be afraid of. It’s not going to hurt your career."
U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe came out last year before the London Olympics and plays for Lyon in France. She’s expected to join the Seattle team of the new National Women’s Soccer League in mid-June.
Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury, and Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx are among that league’s openly gay players. Sheryl Swoopes, a retired WNBA All-Star, came out in 2005 during her playing days.
The two-time defending champion Galaxy will announce a deal Saturday to acquire Rogers, who came out in February while simultaneously announcing his retirement.
The 26-year-old winger is an MLS veteran who spent the last two seasons in England. About a month ago, Rogers decided he wasn’t truly ready to give up soccer.
He trained with the Galaxy in recent weeks and hoped to continue his career in his native Southern California. The Galaxy made it happen by giving up high-scoring midfielder Mike Magee in a trade with the Chicago Fire, who held Rogers’ MLS rights.Next Page >
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