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Tom Daley Comes Out – As Happy

In the affecting, intimate-yet-professional YouTube clip above, a slightly red-eyed and emotional Tom Daley, the Olympic medal winning British diver and best thing to happen to Speedos since Mark Spitz, says he was misquoted in an interview earlier this year in which he appeared to deny he was gay (albeit insisting he wouldn’t be ashamed if he was). He went on to make an announcement that you have probably already read about.

‘Now I feel ready to talk about my relationships. And come spring my life changed massively when I met someone and they make me feel so safe, happy and everything feels great. And that someone is a guy.’

Cue banner headlines announcing TOM DALEY COMES OUT!!. Millions of really witty Tweets about #TomGayley. And The Daily Telegraph informing us on the front page of their online edition that nineteen-year-old Tom has announced he is a nineteenth century medical classification: ‘homosexual’.

Daily Telegraph 'Daley announces he is homosexual'
Daily Telegraph: ‘Daley announces he is homosexual’

Though in the actual clip rather than people’s overheated minds Tom says no such thing. What he Tom Daley, the person whose sexuality we’re all pronouncing-pouncing on comes out as is: someone dating a man who makes him feel safe and happy.

He also goes on to say: ‘I still fancy girls, of course’. He doesn’t in fact define his sexuality at any point, as gay, straight or even bisexual. That may change. Or it might not. And I’m sure everyone has an opinion on that.

But frankly, it doesn’t matter. Whatever we might like to analyse or gossip or speculate – and I’m guilty of all those vices myself – in the end it’s really not our concern. It’s nineteen-year-old Tom’s concern. For all the crowing yesterday from people who ALWAYS KNEW that Tom was A GAY, currently his sexuality remains officially undefined – even though yes, he does still have pretty eyes a soft voice and a really pert bum.

Tom’s journey is his own to make. And sexuality itself is a journey that doesn’t have to have a final destination. But try telling that to the press. This excellent piece in the Guardian by Nichi Hodgson about the media’s need to label Tom as GAY said it best:

“The only facts that speak for themselves are that Daley is dating a man, and wants to be honest about the fact so the media doesn’t try to make assertions about his personal life and preferences for him. Instead, the only thing that has been outed today is the media’s rigidity – and stupidity – when it comes to reporting on sexuality.”

Perhaps Tom might have been able to tell the world he was dating a guy a bit sooner if the world, straight and gay hadn’t been yelling YOU’RE GAY!!! at him for most of his teens. If we all dialled the gaydar down a little and erred on the side of open-mindedness it would make it a lot easier for guys to be open about their interest in other guys. Or bronzer and Speedos.

Though perhaps that is to miss part of the point of gaydar – that it can be a form of surveillance. A way of policing men’s appearance, gender style and sex lives, even and especially when it’s gay men operating it. It’s a source of constant wonder to me how many gay people for all their pride in their super-accurate long-distance gaydar can’t see the sexual liberation wood for the gay trees.

This is the bit in Tom’s vid that we’re all not hearing:

“In an ideal world I would not be doing this video because it should not matter.”

tom daley

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2 thoughts on “Tom Daley Comes Out – As Happy”

  1. I think it’s important to listen carefully to the video. There’s a great deal of emotional integrity to Tom’s delivery; what he actually says,and makes clear is far less exacting than people who sensationalize things would like. Several things are indisputable: he has been so involved in his career and so relatively young that he has never had a serious relationship even with a female for lack of emotional time.
    I’ve come to understand that people reach sexual maturity at different ages- he
    has never had the time to experiment- there’s an all too believable recognition of that, and to jump ahead of him chronologically would be to falsify what he says. It has long been recognized that young men (and he is that,surely)! In a young man’s development there are a variety of love/friendships etc. Emotionally he is still a boy, not a man (no time in his career). He just is no more, no less than he can be. He made the video to clarify some presumption that jumped the gun, presuming more than he can honestly claim. The worst thing we can do is to put salt of the proverbial injury.
    I’ve talked to other youthful athletes and come to realize that they grow up emotionally at a later stage than young men who have spare time to have and develop relationships.
    Intelligence calls us to listen to what he says , realize who he is, and give him credit for integrity as a young man.

  2. You are absolutely right to emphasize the fact that TD did not come out as ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ but simply wanted to say honestly to to the world (to clear up any media misrepresentations) that he had entered into a same-sex relationship. This was a brave thing to do given his celebrity status. That he choose to state this in his own way and on his own terms in a way that was both public and intimate shows a considerable degree of maturity and intelligence for one so young and in a media spotlight that can turn the heads of many his age.

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