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"You're Gay?" Michael Sam Asked The Writer, And Then The Mask Dropped

Illustration for article titled "You're Gay?" Michael Sam Asked The Writer, And Then The Mask Dropped

Earlier today, we republished a profile of Michael Sam that originally appeared in Out Magazine. Within the story, there is a moment when Sam realizes that the reporter he's talking to—grudgingly—is gay. The mask drops, and you can almost feel his relief radiating off the page. From the story:

Desperate to turn things around, I started talking about myself and mentioned visiting a boyfriend in upstate New York. Suddenly Sam's head perked up; for the first time, he looked me in the eyes. "Wait—you're gay?" I wasn't sure how this could have been unclear. "Uh, yes," I replied, wondering how he was going to take the news. "Oh!" he blurted, his voice rising five octaves. "And Aaron [Hicklin, Out's editor in chief]? Is he gay, too?" I nodded. His face melted into a smile; he inched his chair closer to the table and loosened the furrow in his brow. "I thought you guys were straight! That's why I was giving you a hard time." His eyes, which had glared with impermeability all through the shoot, suddenly started to radiate warmth and comradeship. Sam's metamorphosis was so sudden and cartoonish, it suggested how much energy he was having to expend to protect his sexual orientation from people he feared would use it against him.

So much of Sam's saga thus far has been stage-managed and pre-packaged that I can't think of another moment like this, beyond that draft-day kiss and cry, when we got a real glimpse of his ordeal. It must be exhausting, having to be at all times a model gay man in front of a straight sports media.

You can read the full profile below.

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