I recently read Coming Out to Play, the book written by Robbie Rogers, the only openly gay professional footballer. I had been intending to read this book for a while and hadn’t got round to it but it was recently recommended to me and this gave me the push to actually read it.
It was, without a doubt, the hardest book that I have ever read. Not because it was not interesting or because it was poorly written but because it was so emotionally difficult. I have never cried whilst reading a book but on a number of occasions I found myself struggling to hold back the tears when reading this one. This was someone else’s story and yet I was reading the history of my life story and all the emotional struggles I had been through and in a clearer way than I could ever explain my own story. It is a strange feeling having your own thoughts explained to you in a better way than you yourself can understand them.
The similarities between my story and that of Robbie Rogers are many with a couple of notable exceptions: I am not religious, unlike Robbie who comes from a Catholic background, and I’m playing at a far, far lower level than Robbie Rogers, away from any media attention. However, we have far more similarities than we have differences. We both grew up playing a lot of football and from a young age we were exposed to that macho and often homophobic atmosphere of the football culture. We both felt the need to get off with girls so that no one would suspect anything. Neither of us enjoyed it and eventually we both decided that we wouldn’t get off with girls again because it was unfair on the poor girls that we used. Finally, we both came out at similar ages, me when I was 24 and he did it when he was 25, and in similar ways. We both initially came out to our families and friends before we even considered coming out to our football teams. He eventually decided to come out to his footballing world and I hope that one day I will have the courage to overcome my fears and come out in my football world.
I am not really sure what I expected when I started reading his book but I did not expect it to be such an emotionally difficult book for me to read. I didn’t expect his story to mirror my own story so much and for it to help to understand my own story in much a way. I could write for hours about this book but I don’t want to bore people. Instead I think that over the next blog posts I will take the quotes from the book the meant most to me and I will comment on them.