Hey everyone So the big story in the news over the last two days is that Britain’s Olympic diving hero Tom Daley is has come out as gay. Why the sexuality of this young athlete should actually matter to anyone in the early years of 21st century is beyond me. Surely all that should matter is that he is happy in a loving and fulfilling relationship.
However Monday’s declaration by Tom on youtube that he is in a gay relationship whilst it may not have surprised that many people, most of my friends have a liberal attitude towards gender and sexuality
I myself am a self identified transwoman, it certainly provoked a reaction in the press.
I qualify this by saying that though this was mostly favourable there are unfortunately, even in these enlightened times a vocal minority of small minded individuals who will I regret to say to be unable to share in his happiness. In my opinion those people who would sooner live in the 18th century than the present one and it is the fact that they are so comfortable with their prejudices which means that the announcement of this talented young athlete will have greater implications than should be the case at this time in our history.
Make no mistake this could not have been an easy decision for Tom but I believe that he will be able to sleep easier in his bed now that he has taken the step. In doing this I believe he will provide inspiration for others particularly but not exclusively younger people who may be struggling to tell their family and friends.
So far the reaction to his coming out has been very warmly welcomed with positive feedback in both mainstream media and social networks. Whilst it is true to say that there will be a lot of girls disappointed by the news well he is rather a hottie I am sure the vast majority of people of all ages, orientations and identities who wish him well in his relationship
So getting back to the main question why does it matter?
It matters not only because of people’s attitudes to LGBT citizens in this country and overseas but because unlike actors or those involved in the performing arts where this story wouldn’t even make the news, Tom Daley is an athlete and their are very few openly Gay athletes in Britain or anywhere.
You see for some reason sport seems to have escaped the social and cultural revolutions which have taken place in society over the last couple of decades and is almost exclusively macho. It is the kind of world where as people would have said in my late teenage years of the late 1970’s where men are men and women are thankful for it.
Not only is this sexist, offensive nonsense which should be confined to the history books it is also extremely dangerous to suggest that there are no gay sportsmen and women. This is my view a fantasy and it is totally deluded to say there are for example no gay footballers though I cannot think of an openly gay footballer. However there is a difference between being gay and being openly gay and it this attitude which by coming out Tom Daley will I think play a part in changing.
This will hopefully be a game changing moment in the sense that by having pride in himself Tom Daley will inspire to have a similar belief in themselves and in their right to be who they are. It was different for me I came out as a transwoman when I was a so-called adult, I jest of course, but only partly. You see it is always harder to come when you are in your teens as despite the front some teenagers manage to put on this is a very difficult time when feelings and emotions are far more fragile than they are later on when you’ve graduated with honours from the school of hard knocks.
Also with me as with other transpeople there is a change in your body image and physical appearance therefore any denial of who you are is completely pointless so you do present a take it or leave it message to the world. For gay men and lesbians however there is far more chance to stay in the closet should they wish to do so. This is a decision which many will take for a number of reasons all of which are valid such as family, or career prospects.
It is my hope that by seizing the day and avoiding a tabloid splash Tom Daley was not only responsible for successfully managing his own coming out he also marked the day that the game changed for good and the rules of fair play will give everyone a real sporting chance.