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But early on, officials at the school, a Baptist university in Waco, Texas, saw tweets she'd written revealing her same-sex attraction and instructed her to keep quiet about it. " By that time, after all, Griner was a Baylor Bear icon, well on her way to becoming the most decorated female college-basketball player in history, with NCAA records in blocks and dunks and 3,283 points over four years.

Baylor policy classifies "homosexual acts" as sexual misconduct and as "misuses of God's gifts."So Griner lived with one size 17 foot in the closet, one foot out until her senior year, when, she says, laid-back as ever, "I was just like, Screw 'em, I'm gonna say what I want. Coming out on a broader stage has allowed her to do the kind of advocacy she's long set her sights on, she says, including a lovely, plainspoken spot for the It Gets Better Project.

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The event is three days away, and she needs something to wear with the gorgeous black suit that her stylist, Kellen Richards—who's also Ellen De Generes' fashion adviser—had custom made for her.

"With Ellen, we choose women's clothes and add menswear touches," says Richards' assistant, when asked to compare dressing the two women. And it's edgier." (The last time she wore a dress, Griner tells me, was at her mother's request, for her high school graduation.

Griner came out to her parents, and while her mother greeted the news with mellow aplomb—she'd always love her girl, she said—her father, Ray, declared that he wasn't "raising any lesbian." "My dad always told me to just be who I was, but I don't think he knew exactly how I took it," she says, chuckling ruefully.

So contentious was her household that Brittney moved out during her senior year to live with an assistant coach for her high school team.

(Yes, new WNBA players are taught how to apply makeup while NBA rookies learn to beware of gold-digger groupies who might prick tiny holes in condoms.) Now, peering at herself in the makeup mirror, Griner approves of her agent's handiwork. Brittney Griner is now the first man to play in the WNBA…. This is a tiny sample of the ugly invective regularly hurled at Griner on Twitter and other social-media forums.

She seems pretty unfazed by the haters, however—even motivated by them.

Never again.)Griner quickly gravitates to a burgundy sleeveless T-shirt by Robert Geller and a black Saint Laurent sweatshirt top with cutoff sleeves and a narrow silver chain sewn across the yoke.

Her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, pulls out a Lanvin sleeveless tee with mesh sides as a racier alternative.

"Reading what people say makes me want to be me even more," she told magazine's Kate Fagan.

In a world in which the female body is always up for critique, Griner stands as very tall testament to how much we've changed in our attitudes toward difference, but also to the distance we have yet to travel.

"Would you like this with no shirt underneath, with nipples out?

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