Robbie Rogers Talks About His Dating Life…And The Media Should Too

Robbie Rogers (right) in a game for the Los Angeles Galaxy. (Credit: AP)

Robbie Rogers, the professional soccer player who became the first openly gay man to appear for a major American sports team this spring, has talked plenty about his personal life since coming out in a blog post on his own web site in February. That talk has focused primarily on what it was like to be a closeted athlete and how fans and teammates have reacted since he came out, but this week, he talked to Out Magazine about his dating life and how he doesn’t like being set up with people. Instead, he wants to meet someone in “an organic way,” and he’s sure he’ll “meet someone in a random place – the grocery store or wherever.”

I’m glad Out Magazine asked him about it, and I think blogs and outlets that aren’t geared specifically toward the gay community ought not be afraid to talk about it either. We talk openly about the off-field lives of straight athletes, from who Derek Jeter is dating these days to who attended Robert Griffin III’s wedding and what presents they brought. Kevin Durant’s engagement to WNBA star Monica Wright is instant blog-fodder and an inspiration for “best athlete-athlete marriage” slideshows. The off-field lives of athletes have spawned sections about athletes’ relationships at sports blogs and entire web site spinoffs, like TMZ Sports.

We can debate the usefulness or need for any of that coverage. I don’t particularly care for it, I don’t read much of it, and I’m not going to write about most of it either. But there are times when those issues actually matter. We were willing to talk about domestic violence when it came to former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher’s murder of his girlfriend, for instance, but those same conversations didn’t happen when former NFL lineman Kwame Harris assaulted his male lover outside a restaurant shortly after. And how long did we miss out on the awesomeness of openly gay Brittney Griner because no one thought to ask her? Beyond that, talking about athletes’ off-field lives is just normal in this media era, and as LZ Granderson wrote for ESPN The Magazine last month, if the media is going to write and speculate about the personal lives of straight athletes, its unwillingness to do the same with LGBT athletes is a bad sign, a form of soft bigotry that only indicates that both reporters and readers aren’t ready to approach the idea of same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships, and same-sex sex as the normal facets of human life that they are.