Mason Darrow was a mess at practice. The Princeton University freshman football player felt slow on his feet, unable to get his head fully in the game.
And he knew why. Maintaining a life in the closet is isolating enough as it is without feeling the added hypermasculine pressure of being an offensive lineman for a Division I football team.
Luckily one of his teammates noticed Mason seemed to be drifting off to a distant, and by the looks of it, unpleasant, planet.
They made a plan to talk that night, and after an an evening spent agonizing over what to do (bailing on the conversation altogether was an attractive prospect), Mason knocked on the other player’s door.
The teammate broke the tension with a joke about Mason’s worries being of the girl variety.
“If this is a girl issue,” he said, “I’m going to be pissed.”
“Actually, it’s kind of the opposite,” Mason told him. “I’m gay.”
The teammate responded positively, and Mason experienced that boundless elation that comes with cracking open the closet door. The darkness was suddenly broken by one narrow beam of light, and he knew the only thing to do was continue to welcome more in.
Mason told Outsports he’d struggled with aligning his sexual orientation with how he interpreted “gay culture,” but at that moment and in the coming weeks as he came out to the rest of his team, it suddenly didn’t matter.
He was finally content just being true, which results in much fewer distractions when you’re trying to tackle a 300 pound opponent.
“Telling my teammates was the best decision I have ever made.”
Watch more of Mason’s story below: