So Tom Daley came out, cue the cynical tweets jokes and comments. W, ll maybe it’s just time for haters to back off.
Tom Daley first rose to public attention at the age of 15 as part of the Team GB in the baiting Olympics. He was the public schoolboy living the dream. He was competing on an international stage and doing what he did best and staying at the top of his field. Media profile has always been pretty high due to public appearances and interviews.
Of course speculation about his sexuality has been rife. When he fronted the popular ITV show “splash” screen grabs flew around of him “checking out” one of the contestants . On Twitter, The results read like a witch-hunt and were particularly vicious.
At the time I had written an article defending Tom and have since contemplated using his name in an article about celebrity’s coming out. However I took the decision to not publish in either. As a gay man, I was unwilling to add my voice to what I perceived as an online witch-hunt of a younger man.
While I was defending him, adding my voice to an ongoing narrative seemed wrong and like I was only adding to the debate. Straight or gay everyone deserves the opportunity to come to terms with their own sexuality and their limits on their own terms. Tom has grown up in the public spot light and has been hounded by this question. For some of us, we are sure of our sexuality and proud of who we are. It’s easy to forget that some people don’t have the luxury and need to be comfortable in it before they tell people. Aside from their own comfort it’s also their right as a human being.
When you are becoming comfortable with your own sexuality, it’s neither helpful nor useful for people to be speculating or questioning you on the matter. It one thing to be able to come out to your friends and family. It’s another to have to do it on a national stage. I wonder how many of the people critising Tom online have had to come out in those circumstances?
People don’t come out for various reasons, confidence is one and guilt and shame are others. The constant questioning can often make the announcement seem bigger than it is. I notice that the online criticism is around what Tom actually said. He neither used the term Gay or Bisexual just simply confirmed that he was in a relationship with a man. He is using terms that he is comfortable, he feels safe in the relationship and this has given him the confidence to be able to come out publically.
So for all the people ready to jump in with the comments:
“This is news?”
“I knew all along”
“In other shocking news, water is wet”
I’m shocked at the lack of empathy being shown by the gay community, clearly coming out was so long ago that we appear to have lost touch with the frustrating and scary feelings around what can be a defining moment in any person’s life.
The news is not that Tom Daley has come out; the news is that Tom Daley is done with hiding who he is. He’s stated that he’s happy in a relationship and ends the video by talking about his next training session and hoping that people still want to follow his journey. He’s an Olympian and that’s clearly where his life is focused. Maybe it’s time to let him get on with it. Gay straight or Bi makes no different to his performance but I hope he can walk a little taller and a little more confident in himself
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.