Daley makes a splash with coming out video
Olympic diving medallist Tom Daley revealed he has been happily involved with another man since spring this year. How will sports fans react to his frank video disclosure?
‘Right now I’m dating a guy and I couldn’t be happier,’ Tom Daley announced on Monday in his video message to the world.
Apart from finishing his A-levels this year, the 19-year-old has had a life very unlike most teenagers. At the London Olympics in 2012 he won bronze in the diving competition, but he has been one of Britain’s most popular sporting stars since becoming the youngest competitor in an Olympic final in Beijing four years earlier. In his wobbly, homemade message, Daley told fans that being so much in the public eye had made it difficult to deal with his father’s death from cancer two years ago and that he had wanted to protect his right to a private life.
‘It’s been hectic,’ he said ruefully.
But now Daley says he feels ready to talk about relationships – and his disclosure was hailed as a major step forward for other young men who might be struggling with their own sexuality.
‘Of course I still fancy girls,’ the diver confessed, saying that he had previously refused to discuss who he was dating. But how he wanted to talk honestly about the ‘guy’ who had ‘changed his life’.
Past trials, he said, included bullying and teasing at school; yesterday there was some of the inevitable taunting for which Daley was braced, but supporters deluged social media sites with appreciation.
They hope that the warmth directed towards the diver demonstrated a more liberal attitude towards young people’s sexual experimentation.
Public private partnership
‘It shouldn’t matter,’ Daley said, although he was relieved to be settling rumours and speculation before he headed off on a training trip for the rest of December: ‘I’m glad I’ve got it off my chest.’
Tom says his close friends and family have been supportive, although others, who knew about his decision to reveal the nature of the relationship that has made him so happy, advised him not to be open, or to be careful of how it affected his career and media profile. Others, he hinted, were shocked.
Some wonder why would anyone object, in this day and age? More than that, why would anyone hide their sexuality? And why did Daley wait so long?
‘That’s not very understanding,’ campaigners retort. We may think society has come a long way. But it is very recent for same sex relationships to have been accepted at all, and many people still disapprove. Those who spent yesterday saying a coming out ‘announcement’ was over-dramatic may not realise the courage it requires, whether you are a celebrity with two and a half million twitter followers or not.
- Does knowing about someone’s love life affect your respect for them?
- ‘People are either straight or gay. Anything else is half-hearted.’ Do you agree?
- Think of a way that talking openly about a gay relationship might improve or add difficulties to your life. As a group make a list.
- Pretend you are head of the official Tom Daley fan club. Script and perform or video your organisation’s response to Tom’s video message.
Some People Say...
“Tom Daley just made it 100 times easier for confused young gay men to lead open, happier lives.’Piers Morgan”
What do you think?
Q & A
- So is he gay or isn’t he?
- Not that simple. Some of those who congratulated Tom Daley yesterday were delighted that he had not been specific or put himself into either a ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’ category. These people use the slogan ‘love not labels’ to emphasise that they want acceptance for any sort of relationship at any point in someone’s life.
- Does that work?
- Well, some of this is about behaviour not just how you define sexual orientation. In the past in many societies, and in some societies today, it was and is the case that many homosexual people confined themselves to straight relationships. Nowadays, surveys show that in some nations it has become more acceptable, and more common, to experiment. Some argue that this proves all human sexuality is ‘fluid’.
- Daley won BBC young sports personality of the year two years running. Sports writers said on Monday that Daley was the most prominent British sportsman to come out, and expressed hope that he could now go on to win more medals for the UK! Look at this comment in the Daily Telegraph: ‘With the fractious issue finally resolved, he can concentrate on that which matters most to him: winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.’
- The latest survey of sexual behaviour and attitudes in the UK, released only last week, showed a small increase in men who have had a same-sex partner – up from 3.6% to 4.8%. But there has been a big rise in women having a same-sex partner, up from 1.8% to 7.9%.