Robbie Rogers: ‘I Hope Young LGBT People Start to Feel Loved and Accepted by Their Families and Country’
Soccer star Robbie Rogers tells Tim Teeman: ‘We must look back to the Stonewall Riots, and learn from our past in order to create a more accepting world for the next generation.’
In this special series, LGBT celebrities and public figures talk to Tim Teeman about the Stonewall Riots and their legacy—see more here.
Robbie Rogers is a TV producer, former professional soccer player, and the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league when he played his first match for the L.A. Galaxy in 2013.
When/how did you first hear about the Stonewall Riots, and what did you make of it?
I had first heard about the Stonewall Riots as a closeted young boy, but as I got older and was starting to explore the idea of coming out to my family, I started to read about the Stonewall Riots and other historical LGBT moments.
I remember thinking, “I wish I had the courage of those involved with the riots,” and that if they could protest and fight for their beliefs and rights then why couldn’t I?
What is their significance for you now?
There are a few extremely important events in LGBTQ history that I wish were taught in schools, among them the Stonewall Riots, the Compton Cafeteria Riots on the West Coast, the creation of the Society of Human Rights in the ’20s, and the creation of the Mattachine Society in the ’50s.
This history should be one of the most sacred things about our community. As we move forward and continue to fight for equal rights for ourselves and other minorities, we must look back at the Stonewall Riots and learn from our past in order to create a more accepting world for the next generation. So, in short, the Stonewall Riots is one of the most important events in our history and the events I mentioned above helped create the world we live in now.
How far have we LGBT people come since 1969?
We’ve come a long way. I am married to the love of my life and have two kids. But there are still people around the world who suffer because they are LGBT, and obviously our country still doesn’t treat us as equal citizens. We aren’t protected federally from being fired from our jobs, and if I wanted to give blood to save someone’s life I don’t have the same right to do so as my brother or sisters. So we still have ways to go, but I believe we are generally moving in the right direction in this country.
What would you like to see, LGBT-wise, in the next 50 years?
I’d like to see a gay president, out athletes in every sport... I’d like to see the Equality Act passed by the Senate and become law. But more than anything I hope that our younger generation that still has a much larger chance of being bullied in school or dying by suicide, starts to feel that they are loved and accepted by their families and country. This I believe happens over time when their government and schools support them, when they see themselves on TV, or in movies, and books. I am hopeful because I’ve seen it get better, and I hear from these kids weekly.