Robbie Rogers played for the Columbus Crew and the U.S. national team before going abroad and joining Leeds United. Soon after, he abruptly quit the game and announced that he was gay. When he came out of retirement, with the LA Galaxy, Rogers became the first and only gay male athlete in any of the the big American sports leagues. He also wrote a book about growing up with such a big secret, keeping it from family, friends, teammates, coaches—everybody.
This is the first in a Dummy companion series we’re calling 1v1. The idea is to talk to some of the leading players, managers, businesspeople, journalists—and not just about the usual stuff, but to really go deep on the experiences and points of view that make them unique. In this interview, Robbie talks about what it was like in the U.S. residency program in Bradenton as a teenager—he only stayed for a little while because it was such an unwelcoming environment. He speaks about locker room culture here in the U.S. and in England. He spoke about his internship in London, where he would transform from celebrated pro soccer player in the morning to the guy who fetched the coffee in the afternoon. Rogers says he believes people think he’s stuck up when he first meets them because he’s an introvert and very shy: “I’m probably that way because I’ve been closeted for so long and I don’t trust a lot of people.” He says that he’s always felt like an outcast.
All told, it’s an incredibly honest and open and enjoyable conversation. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll publish similar interviews with Carli Lloyd, Sean Johnson, Alexi Lalas, Christen Press, Paul Gardner, and others.