An Olympic-Medal Winner Calmly Comes Out on YouTube

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 2 2013 10:34 AM

A British Olympic-Medal Winner Calmly Comes Out

That's Tom Daley, a popular British Olympic diver who won bronze at the 2012 London games. "In spring this year my life changed massively when I met someone, and they make me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great," the 19-year-old Rio hopeful says in the clip he posted online this morning. "That someone is a guy."

Daley's largely an unknown on this side of the Atlantic where the vast majority of us can't name a single member of the U.S. Olympic diving team let alone anyone competing under a foreign flag. But Daley's star burns quite a bitter brighter over in Great Britain, partly because he delivered a bronze for the home country in 2012 and partly because Britain simply has fewer international athletes to divide its attention among. (When I was living there during the 2000 games, I distinctly remember live coverage of Team GB's badminton mixed doubles squad's unlikely run to the bronze medal.)

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I don't know enough about the current state of the British sporting world to weigh in on whether Daley deserves to be called a sporting "star," as many of today's write-ups are billing him. But he was already famous enough to be the focus of tabloid speculation about his sexuality and, according to the Telegraph, he's now earned the temporary title of the "most prominent British sportsman ever to come out." His decision to come out as bisexual ("I still fancy girls," he notes) is all the more noteworthy given the current focus on Winter Games-hosting Russia and the government's less-than-welcoming attitude toward gay athletes.

"In an ideal world I wouldn't be doing this video—because it shouldn't matter," Daley says in the video, before explaining that he felt it necessary to set the record straight after he says the Daily Mirror misquoted him as claiming that he is "not gay."

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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