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’.

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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 YOURE 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.”

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  • Mark Walsh wrote:

    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.

  • Roger Cook wrote:

    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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