WASHINGTON – Robbie Rogers became a pioneer for being the first openly gay professional athlete in a major American sport, and that distinction has not escaped President Barack Obama.
While honoring the MLS Cup winning LA Galaxy and the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings for their respective championships, the President took time to salute Rogers for breaking a barrier when he became the first openly gay professional athlete in American sports.
"I want to recognize what Robbie Rogers of the Galaxy has done for a lot of people by blazing a trail as one of professional sports' first openly gay players," Obama said during his remarks in the East Room. "My guess is that as an athlete Robbie wants to win first and foremost, that's what competition is all about.
“But Robbie, you've also inspired a whole lot of folks here and around the world, and we are very proud of you."
The Galaxy left back was near tears during the President’s comments and the subsequent applause and afterwards he could hardly contain his surprise and excitement at the honor.
“I was really surprised, actually, and pleasantly surprised,” Rogers told a group of reporters just outside the White House. “Just for him to mention where I’ve come from is special for me.”
For the 27-year-old, the mere fact that the President took time to mention his cause showcased the growth of acceptance for all of those in the LGBT community.
"There is a long way to go for the LGBT community. It’s slowly getting there,” Rogers said. “It’s changing. Slowly, it’s changing.”