Tom Daley’s Video Confessional

BCN 122 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 122, December 2013

2012 Olympics diving bronze medal winner Tom Daley chose to reveal he was in a relationship with a man on his YouTube channel on the 2nd December. Following this, there has been a lot of talk in the media about his sexuality. Some, including PinkNews, mistakenly labelled him as gay whereas others have said that the fact he didn’t label himself as gay or bi meant we’d somehow entered a utopia where we’re somehow beyond labels; that people will soon be able to declare who they love without it being a huge issue. There’s also been talk that this isn’t a big deal, that it shouldn’t even be news.

This couldn’t be further from the truth if it tried. The reason this needs to be news is because it’s not that long ago making this kind of confession would have ended an athlete’s career. Martina Navratilova had to forego sponsorship because she wanted to live openly as a lesbian. Also, there are still people getting killed around the world (sometimes by the states that are meant to protect them) because of who they love. People like Daley being honest about who they’re dating shows that being with someone of the same sex doesn’t make you a deviant that needs to be punished. With the Winter Olympics being held in Russia just around the corner, this point needs to be made every bit as much now as during the Stonewall riots.

Also, there’s a reason people choose to forego labels when they’re attracted to members of more than one sex, and that’s not because we’re in a utopia. It’s because bisexuals are still seen as greedy, it’s assumed that one has to like “both” genders equally to be bi and that it’s just a stopping post on the way to being gay.

Before we celebrate how awesome it is people choose to say who they’re in love with without putting a label on themselves, we really need to look at how easy it is label yourself as bisexual if you choose to. Labelling isn’t restrictive when you do it to yourself, it doesn’t have to define everything about you but it can help you feel like you belong somewhere.

Tom, you don’t have to label yourself as bi to fit into the bi community. Well done for being brave and for coming out on your own terms. Now, go and bring as back a medal from Rio. We’re rooting for you.

Vicky Syred