Online Features Editor Meg Lawrence explains why knowing Tom Daley’s sexuality shouldn’t be a big issue.
On Monday, Olympic diver Tom Daley released a video via his Twitter account, saying that he had a boyfriend. It was a brave, public thing to do which has sparked media attention across the country. But in this day and age, it’s wrong that anyone should feel the need to make a video stating they are in a gay relationship; straight celebrities don’t announce their new relationships, but those who are gay or bisexual feel that they have almost a duty to ‘come out’. If society was truly accepting of homosexual relationships, Tom Daley wouldn’t have felt the need to dedicate a video explaining his.
In the five and a half minute video, Tom says: ‘People are going to make a big deal of this. Is it a big deal? I don’t think is. But I wanted to say something and I feel like now I’m ready and I wanted to do it.’ It’s not a big deal, and although Daley was very open about his relationship, the fact that he felt he had to tell the world, to explain himself, shows that we are not as open about gay and bisexual relationships as we should be.
Owen Jones, British author, columnist and commentator wrote an article for The Independent in 2012, in which he argued that those who are gay or bisexual shouldn’t feel the need to ‘come out.’ He said that: ‘The very fact that coming out- whether you’re a TV anchor, pop star, teacher or train driver- remains such an event shows how far the struggle for equality has to go.’
He went on to say that: ‘We will have achieved total equality when “coming out” is completely abolished as a process. Being gay will not be seen as a separate, defining identity. The frequent social segregation of LGBT and straight people will be ended.’
Tom Daley’s honesty and pride will hopefully help to eradicate the homophobia that many people in society still convey. Daley said in his video that: ‘Come spring this year, my life changed massively when I met someone and it made me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great. And that someone is a guy – and it did take me by surprise a little bit.’ The more open people are about their sexuality, the more accepting others should be of it. Still, it’s abhorrent that anyone has anything negative to say on the subject.
Whilst many people have been supportive of Daley since he announced that he was bisexual, there are of course those on Twitter and other public domains voicing homophobic views, with one girl even saying: ‘I can’t believe Tom Daley is gay I’m not a fan of his anymore! he’s (sic) going to hell it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.’
It is also appalling that Daley felt obliged to confirm in the video that his dad would have approved of his sexuality, stating that: ‘People will say, “What would your dad have said?” But he always said, “As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.” And I’ve never been happier.’ Daley’s sexual preference isn’t for anyone to question or discuss.
Already, Daley’s video, entitled Tom Daley: Something I want to Say… has had over 1,780,000 views (as of 8.30pm 02/12/13) on YouTube. Only one of his other 102 videos on YouTube has more views than this, which may be because it involves Team GB dancing to LMFAO’s Sexy And I Know It.
Why has the video gained so much attention? Being gay or bisexual is not a new, unheard of idea. In a survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics in 2011, it was revealed that approximately 545,000 adults identified themselves as Gay or Lesbian. Furthermore, 220,000 adults identified themselves as Bisexual. Although it’s in human nature to be nosy, to gossip, I hope that people’s interest in Daley spans further than this, that he will have had an impact on those who had been homophobic before, and that they will realise it is not unnatural to be gay or bisexual.
Statistics also show that the younger people are, the more likely they are to state they are gay or bisexual. 2.7 per cent of people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four have openly stated that they were gay or bisexual in the UK, compared to 0.5 percent of over sixty-fives.
Clearly, society is becoming more open when it comes to homosexuality. The more it is talked about and integrated into every day life, the less prejudice will surround it.
However, as Owen Jones said, sexual inequality and prejudice will exist until the day that people like Tom Daley feel they have to announce their sexual orientation to the world, and to justify it.
Tom Daley is an Olympic diver. He hopes to win the Gold medal in Rio in 2016. He was a mentor on Splash! on ITV, and in interviews seems like a genuinely nice guy. This is all I need to know about him, knowing that he is bisexual doesn’t change any of these facts. The sooner society accepts that being gay and bisexual is just as ‘normal’ as being straight, the better life will be for everyone.
Watch Tom Daley’s video here.
Meg Lawrence, Online Features Editorbookmark me