EXCLUSIVE: Michael Sam's Truth

7.10.2014

By Out.com Editors

"When I got up there in front of my team, it was actually the first time I said the words to anyone: 'I am gay.' "

With training camp just a few weeks away, Michael Sam appears on the cover of Out magazine's August issue. The interview, which analyzes the media frenzy around the first openly gay athlete in the NFL, also proves how 

As writer Christopher Glazek explains: "The first 15 minutes of the interview were excruciating. Sam refused to make eye contact with me. His answers were curt and nonrevealing... He delivered his responses as rebuttals, swatting away my questions as if blocking kicks from a tedious adversary." 

When asked about his boyfriend Vito Cammisano, he seeems especially wary:

Do you go on dates? “Yeah, we date.” What do you like to do together? “We do what people who date do.” I was starting to understand why he won Defensive Player of the Year. The only information he volunteered was that he felt annoyed that the photo shoot had run over and thrown off his schedule. “I don’t like when the plan changes,” he huffed.

The writer was desparate to turn things around, so he mentioned that he would be visiting his boyfriend soon. That's when the interview changed dramatically:

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, wonder- ing 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.

Whereas before Sam had refused to discuss his relationship, now he was busting out his phone and showing me pictures of his treasured man. I had seen some images of Cammisano online, but these were better. “Very cute!” I exclaimed. He was clearly used to such compliments, and clearly gratified by them. He responded, “Thank you, thank you,” in a practiced tone that reminded me of a politician trying to quell applause before launching into a speech. “I’m sorry about before — I just thought you were some reporter after a story. Some of those guys are vultures.” Sam may not have an effective gaydar, but he had a keenly developed sense of kinship. His entire adult life had been dominated by teams and, evidently, a binary vision of friend or foe. All it took was the word “boyfriend” for him to switch from lion to lamb, and to become not only cooperative but downright solicitous. “Have you still not gotten your tea?” he fretted. I hadn’t. He hounded the waiter and obtained my tea, but he was still worried. “Are you sure you don’t want lemon and honey?” He was a strong advocate of lemon and honey.

Read the full story and see EXCLUSIVE images (including the one below):

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