Sam Stanley, the gay English professional rugby player who came out publicly this weekend, has actually been out on social media for weeks, posting photographs of himself and his partner, Laurence Hicks, on Twitter and Instagram for the last eight weeks. While many people may not have realized the photos were of two partners, it's pretty fantastic that he had clearly become comfortable enough to be "out" there in this way.

Stanley first posted about his partner from Stanley's end-of-season awards dinner with him in June. Yes, Stanley brought his male partner to his team event and the world didn't explode!

Great evening at the end of season awards dinner! Was awesome getting to share it with this guy! @lorenzo_uk

A photo posted by Sam Stanley (@samstannerz) on

This photograph of the two of them at the O2 for Bette Midler became Stanley's Twitter avatar. What's particularly cool about this photo is that Stanley refers to his partner as "my man":

VIP at the O2 tonight to see Bette Midler thanks to my man @lorenzo_uk

A photo posted by Sam Stanley (@samstannerz) on

Five weeks ago Stanley explicitly called Laurence his "other half":

Last summer, shortly after Outsports introduced Stanley to former rugger and LGBT advocate Ben Cohen, he posted this pic of the two of them after a "chance meeting":

Bumped into an ex England International today up town! #legend #worldcupwinner #rugby #bencohen #ilovelondon

A photo posted by Sam Stanley (@samstannerz) on

So inspiring to see yet another athlete so comfortable in his relationship. Awesome stuff, Sam Stanley! And thanks to Hicks for providing such an incredible support system for Sam over the last couple of years.

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