Robbie Rogers always knew that West Hollywood was the place for him.
Since joining the LA Galaxy in 2013, Rogers established roots in the West Los Angeles enclave known for being one of the city’s most progressive communities. West Hollywood has always been known as a bastion of equality throughout the area’s history with over a third of the neighborhood’s population identifying as LGBT.
WeHo’s long record of support of the LGBT community made the area an attractive fit for the defender who made history by becoming the first openly gay athlete in a major American professional sport.
“When I moved back to Los Angeles, I wanted to go to a place where I could experience the LGBT culture and society,” Rogers told LA Galaxy Insider. “As soon as I moved back to LA, I decided to move there. It’s an important place for me, and I have a lot of pride to live in West Hollywood.
“It’s very creative neighborhood because you have artists, actors, designers, producers, directors, all of that around that community. There are always new popups whether it’s art galleries or restaurants. It obviously has a large population in the LGBT community, but it’s so diverse with different ethnicities and religions,” He added. “You have other cities so close by like Koreatown, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Los Feliz and Silverlake, which leads to such a large influx of people from all over the world. It’s very different from where I grew up, which is why I enjoy it so much.”
But Rogers was not always able to embrace the neighborhood as his own.
As a closeted teenager growing up in Southern California, Rogers’ view of West Hollywood was clouded. He saw the community as a place of liberation, a place where thousands could be who themselves in an accepting environment, but ultimately a city that put him face to face with the aspect of his life that he was eager to hide at the time.
“When I was younger, it was a place that I didn’t want to go to because I was so afraid. I was afraid of accepting that part of myself,” Rogers said. “When I got into my late teens, I thought how great it would be to go out there, meet people and experience that, but I was so afraid to be in West Hollywood.”
All that fear and worry washed away when Rogers’ came out in January 2013. After retiring from soccer for several months, Rogers ultimately chose to return to the game and recognized that Los Angeles was the only place that he could begin his career anew.
Once Rogers completed his move to the Galaxy in May of that year and resumed his professional career, he knew exactly where he wanted to make his new home.
“After I came out, it was a new big scary city, and I wanted to have the experience of being a gay man in the city where other men and women of the LGBT community. It was new to me and exciting,” Rogers said. “Now I don’t even think about it. I enjoy living there because a lot of my friends are there, and I’m still close to my family. It’s interesting how my relationship has changed over the years because at this point I don’t even really think about.
“At this point in my life, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Now at 28 and finally at peace with every facet of his life, Rogers is flourishing.
A regular starter for the Galaxy and one of the league’s best outside backs, Rogers has found a new lease on life with in Los Angeles and re-signed with the club before the 2016 season. Off the field, Rogers and his longtime boyfriend Greg Berlanti recently welcomed their son Caleb Gene into the world.
As his family expands and he continues to progress both professionally and personally, Rogers believes that West Hollywood will always be the place for him.
“I’m proud of the community there because it’s a very accepting area of Los Angeles. It’s different, and it’s unique. Aside from all of that other stuff, it’s got great restaurants, and it’s very safe with friendly and creative people. It’s much different than other spots in LA,” said Rogers. “I feel like for me at least, it’s the center of Los Angeles. LA is constantly changing, but West Hollywood has so much energy and creativity, so I love living there.”