Tom Daley: “I Am a Gay Man Now”

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
April 3 2014 10:17 AM

Tom Daley Was Never Bisexual

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Tom Daley makes a statement on something other than his sexuality.

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

When Olympic diver Tom Daley “came out” last December in a YouTube video, he really only admitted to being non-heterosexual. “Of course I still fancy girls,” he said in the clip, “but right now I’m dating a guy, and I couldn’t be happier.” A lot of people rounded this vague, no-labels statement up to “bisexual,” an action which, as I warned back then, has turned out to be a mistake.

E! reports this morning that Daley clarified his identity on last night’s Celebrity Juice, a U.K. show hosted by Keith Lemon. “I am a gay man now,” Daley said. "I came out on YouTube as I wanted to say what I wanted to say without anyone twisting it. I told my family before I told the world. I was terrified. I did not know what the reaction was going to be.” Daley also confirmed that he is still dating screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

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While I empathize with Daley’s trepidation about going full gay (I spent about three days in the “maybe bi” airlock myself), it’s regrettable that his adjustment period was bought at the expense of actual bisexuals. Again, to be fair, Daley never called himself by that term, but the mere suggestion of bisexuality combined with the “now” of this announcement only provides fuel for the nasty misconception that all bi guys are really gay guys in denial. It’s an uncomfortable truth that many gay guys do use bi as something like queer training wheels, but there are also many more truly bi guys in the world who suffer because of the exaggerated stereotype. So, as the ab-obsessed media begins to cover this story, let’s hope that the narrative is not “Tom Daley changes from bi to gay” but rather “Tom Daley clarifies his initially murky sexual orientation declaration.” The former is false and damaging; the latter, while less sexy as a headline, is the truth.

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.