“Young LGBTQ+ person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone. You can achieve anything”Tom Daley, Tokyo Olympics (2021)
In this Gaydar of the Month, we are excited to dive (pun intended) into the life of the Olympic gold-medalist champion in men’s synchronised 10-metre platform event at the 2020 Olympics, Tom Daley. He started diving at the age of 7, but it wasn’t an easy journey for him. During his school years, he was bullied by schoolmates who didn’t understand his love for diving, which caused his mental health to suffer and forced a change in school at the age of 15. A few days after Daley’s 17th birthday, his beloved father, Robert, died from a brain tumor on 27 May 2011, aged 40.
Despite facing personal tragedies, Daley’s resilience extended beyond his athletic achievement. Not only he had won a total of four Olympic medals after 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, he is a champion and active campaigner in LGBTQ+ rights that served as an inspiration and a role model to look upon.
Coming Out Story
In a YouTube video in 2013, Daley bravely announced his relationship with Director Dustin Lance Black. Sharing a heartfelt message, he revealed, “Spring this year brought a profound change in my life as I found someone who made me incredibly happy, safe, and content”. Due to Daley’s fame at that time, the video accumulated millions of views and played a pivotal role in mainstreaming and normalizing same-sex relationships in both media and public perception.
The video was also posted just nine months following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK. Daley demonstrated courage by coming out in an era when prominent LGBT athletes were scarce. Additionally, his announcement positioned Daley as a sports figure to admire for numerous LGBT individuals in the UK and beyond.
Contributions to the LGBTQIA+ Community
What we love about Daley so much is that he is a big-time advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights. Daley advocated for the eradication of anti-LGBT laws within the British Commonwealth in 2018, calling attention to the plight faced by athletes from nations where such laws were in place. With a substantial social media following, Daley utilizes his platform to raise awareness for crucial causes and advocate for societal change. Additionally, he has actively supported Switchboard, an LGBT+ helpline providing confidential advice to youth struggling with their sexuality.
In 2022, Daley was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to diving, LGBTQ+ rights and charity. The OBE was established by King George V in 1917 to honour those who had served in a non-combative role and expanded the Order to reward contributions to the Arts, Sciences, Charitable work and Public Service.
Reflecting on his experiences, Daley’s inspiring words proved to the world that no one should be afraid to be true to yourself and try to conform to society’s pressure. He said, “I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion. When I was younger I didn’t think I’d ever achieve anything because of who I was. To be an Olympic champion now just shows that you can achieve anything.”
He also hoped that, “Young LGBTQ+ person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone. You can achieve anything.”
Daley’s contributions go beyond his sporting achievements. His stance against bullying and support for the LGBTQ+ community have been inspiring, and he has a talent in knitting! After he was seen crafting in the stands at the Olympics (including making a fetching pouch for his medals), his skills gained him a whole new fan base of fellow knitters and crafters. Now he’s got his own knitwear design company, Made With Love.
Overall, Daley’s dedication in the face of challenges and hardships has earned him admiration not only within the sporting community or the LGBTQ+ community, but also among fans around the world.