April 30th, 2013
12:23 PM ET

Former pro soccer player explains why he hid being gay

On Monday NBA player Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete playing for an American pro sports team. The center who played for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards last year made the announcement in an essay he wrote for Sports Illustrated. “By its nature, my double life has kept me from getting close to any of my teammates,” wrote Collins.

About two months ago, former professional soccer star Robbie Rogers also revealed a personal secret in a letter he posted online. It began, "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."

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Rogers talks about the pain of living his life without family, friends and teammates knowing he is gay. He tried to embody the stereotypical macho athlete to avoid raising suspicions. "I went through the motions of having relationships and trying to convince people that I was straight." Even when he considered coming out, he was scared by the anti-gay jokes and slurs he heard in the locker room.

Part of the difficulty was the absence of role models who have paved the way as openly gay players. Rogers knows he could be that influential person for kids, but he says he needs time to decide if he'll return to the sport.

As for stepping away right now, he has no regrets. "I felt like I couldn't play and come out. I thought it would be too emotional for me. It would be a circus," he says.

Watch the interview to hear more about how Rogers came out and how his views on his sexuality changed.

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Filed under: 360° Interview • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Sports
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