Words: Alastair James; pictures: Eddie Blagbrough
Tom Daley says he wants to “create some change” and help improve equality for LGBTQ people around the world.
In a post-event interview, the now Gold medal-winning Olympian told the world’s press that he was “incredibly proud” that he was a gay Olympian. Now he says he wants to go “further” and share more people’s experiences as members of the LGBTQ community.
Tom made history as the first British diver to win four Olympic medals, taking home a gold and a bronze medal from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“We are human beings”
In an interview with the LGBTQ advocacy organisation, GLAAD, Tom addresses using the opportunity after winning his gold as a platform to discuss LGBTQ issues. The 27-year-old diver says it wasn’t something he’d thought of doing before, but he says one of the journalists asked him what he’d say to a younger version of himself, which encouraged him to answer.
“At the end of the day, when I was younger, there wasn't anyone that was out and performing at the highest level [...] I felt like it was my responsibility at that point to shine a light on it.”
Tom recognises how lucky he is with little to no ramifications for being an out athlete in Great Britain, but points to there being ten countries competing in the Olympic Games where being LGBTQ is punishable by death. However, he tells GLAAD he’s determined to “try to create some change”.
This, he says, involves “getting as many people to share their personal stories and share their experiences can really help tell a story and shine a light on how we’re not these big, scary people that sometimes we can be portrayed as […] we are human beings just like everyone else […] we just want to be able to be treated the same as a straight person might.”
When asked about what advice he has for LGBTQ youth with coming out Tom encourages people to do it “on their own terms”.
“Start off by telling a trusted friend or family member and go from there.” He points to his diving idols Greg Louganis and Matthew Mitcham (both of whom are gay) as helping him understand who he is but talks of growing up in the public eye as being difficult.
"It's not just as easy as a bottle of wine and a good time!"
On his diving success, Tom says: “It is so surreal. I have always dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal and then for it to finally happen, I was just so excited, and over the moon.” And he’s eyeing up the 2024 Olympics in Paris. “I just want to see how my body does. If I can manage to do another Olympic Games, I would love to, but I am going to take it step by step and next year, I will make the decision.”
He says being able to win a gold medal, with his husband, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and his son, Robbie, watching was special; especially after the Rio games in 2016, where Tom won a bronze medal in the men’s synchronised diving but not in the individual event.
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Currently in Calgary, Canada while his husband shoots a TV show, Tom says there was a sweet moment driving past the Olympic Park there and Robbie, “was like 'Papa, look, the Olympic rings...you win that!' It is really sweet that he was there to be able to watch it and he understands what I have done.”
He describes fatherhood as “one of the most rewarding” things adding that Robbie “has reminded me of what actually matters most in the world.” And the family could be growing sometime in the future!
“As a gay couple, it's not just as easy as a bottle of wine and a good time! There is a bit more thought and preparation that has to go into it, but it is something that we would definitely like to look into in the future for sure.”
You can watch the full interview below.
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