Robbie Rogers, a former U.S. national soccer team player, retired Friday after coming out as gay. (Photo : Reuters)
Soccer star Robbie Rodgers shocked fans around the world Friday by announcing his retirement on his personal blog Friday, as well as coming out openly as gay.
Rodgers, a former Team USA member and Major League Soccer star, talked in his blog posting Friday about the difficulty of wrestling with both the decision to come out and to step away from the game of soccer.
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Things are never what they seem... My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today's society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose," he wrote.
"For the past 25 year I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of 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 secret would get in the way of my dreams," he continued.
Rodgers stated that he feared for years that his dreams of going to a World Cup or playing in the Olympics and making family members proud would be compromised by admitting that he was gay. He said that soccer, or football as he referred to it, was "my escape, my purpose, my identity."
However, at the end of it, Rodgers decided to step away from a game that he has played since the tender age of seven years old in order to find out more about himself. He wrote his post at 1 a.m. in London Friday.
"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," he concluded.
Rogers played for two U.S. age-group national teams and was on the senior team whey they played in the qualifying rounds for the World Cup in 2008. He also played for MLS' Columbus Crew, where he won an MLS Cup title in 2008, and Leeds United of English soccer's second-division championship.
On Twitter, friends, fans and fellow athletes commended Rogers for having the courage to come out.
"Congratulations to former Leeds Midfielder and US international footballer @robbierogers who has come out. Very cool moment. :) whoop!," tweeted Attitude magazine.
Joining in supporting Rogers were women's national team star Abby Wambach, Juan Agudelo of Chivas USA and Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez.
"Couldn't be happier for you!" Wambach wrote.
Rogers took a big step in admitting being gay, but there have been other athletes who have come out in the last few years that have surprised the world.
The successful Puerto Rican boxer and former 2000 Olympian outed himself last year, becoming the first openly gay boxer in the sport.
"I don't want to hide any of my identities I want people to look at me for the human being that I am," he told PolicyMic last year.
Ball, 24, decided to come out last year, which was a particularly difficult decision as being gay was something that had been looked down upon through his life playing Aussie rules football. However, Ball, who playes for the Yarra Glen seniors in the Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League, believes that the culture has changed enough where football players can openly discuss their sexuality.
"I think the players are ready. The clubs are ready. But we just need the AFL to lead on changing the culture so that players and fans like me can openly be who we are without fear," he said in a 2012 interview.
The MMA female fighter revealed in an interview last year with "The Advocate" that she was bisexual.
Aguilar told the magazine that she had kept her sexual orientation a secret through high school, but had gradually become more accepting of it and eventually began to out herself to her teammates.
"It's always been something I had to be very conservative about and it's something I've had to get more comfortable talking about," she said. "If somebody doesn't agree with my choices, with all due respect, I just don't feed into it because that's negative energy. I'm sorry -- this is who I am."
One of women's basketball's most prominent stars ever, Swoopes, a four-time WNBA Champion and 1993 NCAA Women's Champion with Texas Tech, came out in a 2012 interview with publication "The Advocate".
"Hopefully, me doing what I'm doing-I'm sure I'm going to hear it from both sides," she said. "But I hope [my coming out] is gonna make a difference to a lot of people out there who want to come out and don't know how to do it or are afraid, 'If I do this, what will the consequences be? Am I gonna lose this or that?'
"...I'm at a point right now in my life where I'm tired of having to hide and I'm tired of not being able to be who I am. To feel free. And right now I fee so good about it," she added.
The former football NFL football cornerback for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins came out in 2011. Despite growing up thinking that being gay was wrong, eventually, Davis decided to come forward via several interviews. In one particularly candid interview, he explained the challenges of being gay in the NFL.
"You just want to be one of the guys, and you don't want to lose that sense of family. Your biggest fear is that you'll lose that camaraderie and family," he said.