THE BLOG

Not (Just) Another Tom Daley Blog

11/12/2013 12:12 GMT | Updated 09/02/2014 10:59 GMT

This is aimed at the ignorant trolls amongst us who were confused as to why Daley's coming out caused such a huge splash last week. If you think you fall into this category and have arrived on this page serendipitously then please; don't click away just yet, I will try my hardest not to patronise you (this is when someone talks down to you). Naturally if you've clicked on this page because you actually want to engage with yet more of the fallout from Daley-out-the-closet-gate then bravo you!

So, as you are probably aware there was a very high profile case of coming out last week. Obviously I extend my congratulations to Tom Daley and welcome him into the elite group of society's sexual elite (I think the technical term is bisexual, but it's so rarely used I'm not sure if it's actually considered a "thing"). The reaction to the news was, on the whole, very positive and demonstrated the great strides we have made as a society in accepting those of sexual difference. Mixed amongst the heart warming blogs, the tweets of celebrity praise and the extensive media coverage though was a more cynical, slightly bitter undercurrent of social commentary. Allow me to address some of the more common "I'm not homophobic but..." remarks:

"Who even cares about some kid being gay?!" - Well quite frankly if you don't think that one of the most high profile British sports stars coming out as "not straight" is important then you are part of the problem. In the utopian society that we are currently doing our best to avoid building you are absolutely right, Tom Daley coming out would be simply an isolated article confined to the Daily Mail side panel, poised insignificantly between celebrity X's wardrobe malfunction and celebrity Y's man boobs. Realistically we still live in a deprave, judgemental cesspit and while that remains the case we need to use all tools at our disposal to combat the inherent prejudices that do still exist (and they do still exist). You may not know this but the media is very good at swaying public opinion. More coverage of LGBT issues of any nature in the mass media will bring about a wider awareness, understanding and (potentially) a greater acceptance of them. Even the overt voyeurism of the Daily Mail into the private lives of LGBT public has its benefits.

"Why is this even news?" - I know! I know! I can imagine your fury when you switched on the news eager to find out all about the marginal rise in inflation when instead you had to sit through a whole 1 minute and 30 seconds of some kid mincing about talking about feelings and shit. I feel your pain. Well unfortunately the news is not tailored to individual tastes and in fact there are plenty of people who may actually draw inspiration from such stories. No doubt the people that moaned about Daley being on the news are also the people who moan about the news always being depressing. Some people are never happy.

"Fine, but why do we need to know?" - You're right, you don't need to know, but others do. As people grow up and start to realise they're different they need all the support they can get. We are still at odds with many of our society's prejudices, both subtle and blatant, many of which are absorbed by younger generations. Coming out in spite of these prejudices is no mean feat. No doubt our society is more accepting, but those who are yet to come out need to see these coming out stories of influential figures to draw their own courage from. They need to see the outpour of support these icons receive from all corners of the globe (Twitter). They need to see that they too can follow suit and (hopefully) receive the same messages of support, praise and respect from those around them.

With only experience and a large LGBT network to lean on I am prepared to stick my neck out and say that for the majority of those who have been through the whole "coming out" experience they will remember it as one of the most difficult stages of their life. There are plenty of Teflon skinned people out there who found the transition easier than others but the majority would probably describe it as petrifying and hellish. It shouldn't be like that. Coming out should not be the hardest thing you've ever had to do. As a society we should be in a position where coming out is simply a celebration, a rite of passage; like a barmitzvah but without the dancing on a chair.

We may never get to the stage where a celebrity's sexual status isn't news, but this is nothing to be ashamed about. Just as we have the pleasure of supporting and celebrating Tom Daley's sporting achievements we too have the pleasure of supporting and (maybe, just maybe) celebrating what he will no doubt remember as one of the defining moments of his life.