Los Angeles • Until about a month ago, Robbie Rogers had no interest in being one of the highest-profile openly gay athletes in the world.
Rogers didn't want the pressure or attention, and he was weary of soccer itself. After coming out and simultaneously retiring in February, the former MLS champion and U.S. national team player planned to devote himself to fashion school and family, not soccer or social change.
Rogers told The Associated Press he changed his mind when he realized how much he still loved his sport and how much good he could do by playing it instead of standing on the sideline.
"I don't know what I was so afraid of," Rogers said. "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."
Rogers joined the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer on Saturday, agreeing to a multiyear contract in another step by openly gay athletes in professional sports.
The 26-year-old Rogers recently thought he would never pull on another jersey, imagining nonstop scrutiny and criticism. His concerns were eased by the strong support he received from family, fans and players, including Galaxy star Landon Donovan.
Now Rogers is eager to be more than a footnote. He is determined to thrive as the league's first openly gay player.
The two-time defending champion Galaxy traded top scorer Mike Magee to acquire Rogers, an MLS veteran who spent the last two seasons in England.