I can't quite believe I'm saying this but next year marks my 25th anniversary as an out and proud gay man... It feels like yesterday, but a lot has happened in the last two and a half decades that has made me thankful that I'm not 19 again, despite the perception that things are now a lot easier for young gay men and women.
Coming out is probably the most awkward, fumbling thing you could ever imagine. It's like being inside a really warm closet filled with fluffy jackets, but where all the coat hooks are stabbing at you. It's something that doesn't just happen once; it has to be done on a constant basis. And despite what everyone says, taking the leap of faith is not the only option. Unfortunately, before you read any further, you need to know that there's no right and no wrong answer. All I can tell you are the things that I have learned in my 21 years of being a booted-and-sometimes-suited lesbian. My ramblings are not the definitive answer to dealing with sexuality. All I hope is that they provide a little light relief.
It took a long time for me to realise, with the help of counsellors at the Rainbow Project and Lifeline (two fantastic resources that I was able to use to save my own life) that I am loved, I am valued and I am as deserving of happiness as anyone else. But it has to start with accepting yourself first.
Think you have everybody covered? Relatives, friends, key people at work - check. However, you're not out of the woods yet. We live in a world where there may be equality in law, but socially, we've still a long way to go. Even a simple trip to the doctor, or a casual chat with a colleague, and having to say that dreariest, laborious word "partner", like you're in love with a law firm, is an act of coming out.
For a 16 year old who is confused about their sexuality, to hear, "...that's so gay" on a daily basis in the classroom, they look to their teachers to take a stand and stamp out any behaviour, with absolutely no hesitation. I know that the majority of our teachers would do this, however all teachers must be more confident to tackle this issue straight away.
Coming out as trans to my friends and family was both the easiest and the hardest thing I have ever faced. I had touched upon the subject with two friends in a light hearted manner to see what their reaction would be a few months prior to 'coming out' but I was not ready to fully engage with them the depths of how I felt or how serious I truly was...
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.
What's most heartening about the public response is that the UK seems to agree. That's good for Tom. It's good for us. And it's good for the world - especially when discussion of the Olympics and LGBT identity is currently dominated by Russian lawmakers' repeated insistence ahead of next year's Winter Olympics at Sochi that the mere acknowledgement of being gay is an act of political propaganda. I'm not, by and large, a patriotic sort. But the huge outpouring of support that has greeted Daley's simple statement has made me proud to be British today. That's partly because it shows how firmly recognition of and respect for LGBT people's basic humanity and dignity has taken root in mainstream society.