Actor Christopher Meloni recently praised Michael Sam's coming out.

The 52-year-old actor is best know for his memorable roles as detective Elliot Stabler on the NBC police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and bisexual inmate Chris Keller on the HBO prison drama Oz. He also played vampire Roman in the HBO supernatural drama True Blood.

Speaking with gay glossy The Advocate, Meloni said he heard from many fans who identified with his Oz character.

“I got a lot of letters and had personal meetings where gay men of a certain age, usually men slightly older than me, let me know how important seeing that character was to them,” Meloni said. “It was important because they lived in Matthew Shepard country. They lived under that threat. They lived under this code of manliness in the middle of nowhere. I think they really identified, or finally had a symbol of, not the fey homosexual, but a man who happened to be gay. Even though that character used his sexuality as a weapon, it was a secondary issue for them. It was a guy who was fearlessly gay. It helped give them a sense of power.”

Of Michael Sam, the openly gay NFL draft prospect, Meloni said: “My son plays football, and I remember when Michael Sam came out. I told him, 'That's a real man. That's a guy with courage.'”

Meloni currently stars in Fox's new comedy Surviving Jack.