Aside from courtside seats at the Lakers, Hollywood doesn’t keep close ties to the sports world — except for when it comes to gay athletes. Basketball player Jason Collins was a key presenter at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, Olympian swimmer Greg Louganis was a judge on ABC’s “Splash” and now professional soccer star Robbie Rogers is co-chair, along with “Scandal’s” Kerry Washington, of tonight’s Gay Lesbian Education Network Respect Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
GLSEN, as the organization that fights bullying in schools is known, is backed by a committee of Hollywood heavyweights that include “White Collar’s” Matt Bomer and producers Betsy Beers, Dan Berendsen, Greg Berlanti and Donald De Line. Jim Parsons and his partner Todd Spiewak will be receiving the Inspiration Award.
Roberts, who delivered a recent appearance on “Chelsea Lately” and announced this week that he’ll be writing his memoirs, will one of the evening’s main draws. Here are five questions for the L.A. Galaxy player:
1. Do you think coming out as an athlete is in some ways similar to coming out as an actor? “Yeah, definitely … I wasn’t out until last October, so it’s been about a year. One of the reasons I didn’t come out was because I’m a professional soccer player and a lot of things I heard in the locker rooms just kind of scared me — I thought I could never come out and continue to play my sport.”
2. The Internet really embraced the news. Were you expecting that kind of support? “I wasn’t. I didn’t have any expectation or motives. I wanted to do it and get it off my chest. I felt so free after I did it.”
3. What advice would you give gay kids? “The thing I would say, for me, it was so tough, I kept it all inside. I would encourage them to speak with someone they trust, who isn’t going to share their secret with their family. And then to have faith. I wish I had spoken with someone. I kept this in until I was 25.”
4. What will your memoirs be about? “Why I decided to come out, homophobia in sports and being raised in a conservative Catholic family. I turned professional when I was 18. It’s been therapeutic for me. It’s teaching me a lot about myself and my experiences.”
5. Do you have any acting aspirations? “Not really.”
For more information about tonight’s GLSEN event, click here.