"While he knew he liked guys in the sixth or seventh grade, images of powerful gay football players like Esera Tuaolo were few and far between. Michael Sam had revealed his truth to his teammates but not yet to the world.
Darrow was, like so many gay athletes tell themselves, a complete anomaly. He was part of an athletic family, attending Princeton in the footsteps of his brother, Mack, who played basketball for the Tigers. At 6-foot-5, 285-pounds, Darrow was a beast. On the high school football field he turned heads with his strength and acumen.
Mid-major football programs like Wyoming, Bowling Green and Western Michigan offered him athletic scholarships. Michigan State made inquiries, and Vanderbilt was interested in making him part of the team.
This was not the life of a gay man.
So he hid. He dated women. When someone in his high school asked him if he was gay - and that happened a couple of times - he denied it.
"I felt like I had to keep appearances up. I didn’t want to arouse suspicion that I might be gay, so I went along with the flow and did what I thought was expected of me.” [Outsports.com]”
Mason Darrow, a junior offensive lineman for Princeton's football team, revealed to his teammates in 2013 that he was gay.
On Tuesday, he made the news public in a story for Outsports.com.
The post looked back at how Darrow struggled in his freshman year before finally revealing to teammate Caleb Slate the secret he'd been keeping from the rest of the roster.
"I felt trapped," he told Outsports. "I wasn't happy. I wanted to tell people, but I thought there would be a lot of animosity. There are a lot of guys from the South on the team. I wasn't sure how people would react to it."
Darrow spoke about hiding his sexual preference in high school, where he dated women to "keep appearances up" though he was asked a few times if he was gay. He also detailed how there were additional struggles:
"Darrow never struggled with the morality of being gay, he just never figured he could actually be queer. He didn't enter high school until Barack Obama was the president. Several states had already legalized same-sex marriage by then. Gay entertainers - and yes, even some gay athletes - had received praise for their courage. Darrow had grown up in a country on the doorstep of equality for gay people.
"Yet the constant drumbeat of media images of gay men put forward a particular kind of gay guy: Small, 6 percent body fat, listens to pop music, drinks pink martinis and dances on Broadway. He didn't fit the bill. Mostly."
After coming out two years ago to teammates, he spent the past summer doing the same to the coaching staff, including head coach Bob Surace, who responded, "That's great" upon hearing the news.
"Here at Princeton, if we can't handle this and say, 'we're supportive of everybody no matter what their background, religion, race or sexual orientation,' then we don't have the right guys in the locker room," Surace said. "We're going to support Mason 100 percent."
Princeton will open up its 2015 season on Saturday at Lafayette.