Britain has a new gay sporting icon following the announcement by Olympic diver Tom Daley that he is
gay “in a relationship with a man.” The former world champion and London 2012 bronze medalist broke the news himself using YouTube, and now his face dominates today’s newspapers, along with his name figuring prominently on websites and trending on Twitter.
This is noteworthy as Daley is only 19-years-old and still competes at the highest level in his sport. The overwhelming reaction says a lot about the distinct lack of young male gay role models in British sport. That Daley chose to tell the world himself has me wondering how long it would have been before the tabloids “outed him” in their own awful way. Those newspapers must be gutted. I suppose they can always go after Daley’s other half now, or pick at the video and question just how gay he actually is. There is always something for them to feed off, especially as Daley left the door open for women by acknowledging he still fancies girls too. The rumormongers will be out in force from here on in.
That’s why I think this decision is incredibly impressive and brave. Not just in revealing he has a boyfriend, but by explaining his sexuality isn’t set in stone. He’s obviously still finding his way in the world and isn’t rushing into any decisions. And why would he or should he, he’s only 19 after all. But with the spotlight so heavily focused on his career over the last five years, including when his dad died of cancer, you could have forgiven him for keeping his private life private.
He has a burgeoning TV career (although the less said about Splash! the better) and eyes set firmly on Olympic gold in Rio three years. Now he can add not just gay sporting icon, but role model to his portfolio. Hopefully people will recognize all his accomplishments in a positive way and we’ll move forward towards a society where sexuality is no longer so newsworthy.