By being so relaxed, Tom Daley showed what sexuality is for young people

Tom Daley: "I still fancy girls, of course"
Tom Daley:"I still fancy girls, of course"
Ian Dunt By

Tom Daley just did more for gay culture by lying back on a couch than thousands of hours of diligent campaign work could ever hope to achieve.

The Olympic diver's statement, delivered through YouTube, that he was dating a guy will have probably surprised few people.

What was truly special about the announcement was the way in which it was made. There was no sombre, set-piece, media-event TV interview. There was none of the fevered, front page hysteria which would have greeted a newspaper exclusive.


Instead, Daley appeared relaxed, confident and, most importantly, informal. By lying back as he delivered the statement, in what appeared to be a room with just him and his camera phone, he undercut the almost-religious importance the media and political class give to this topic.

Instead, he was just a guy, chatting about his sexuality openly and optimistically.

"I still fancy girls, of course," he said, without any hint of cheekiness or machismo.

This is the language of shrugging your shoulders, of something becoming so obvious it does not warrant controversy. It is a major victory and a glimpse of a world where legislation will be as far removed from the gay debate as spanners are from sandwiches.

It was indicative of how young people talk about sexuality: as something which resists the firm definitions of 'gay', 'straight' and 'bi'. And as something which is not worthy of the solemn tone of the Westminster bubble, where defenders and opponents of gay rights treat the matter as if it were some great issue of state.

Instead, this was a guy discussing what he liked and felt comfortable with, in an uncertain, matter of fact tone, while lying back, relaxed, with union jack cushions in the background.

It felt like a seismic shift, not in the facts of the debate, but in its manner.

Daley's relaxation and confidence and the lack of importance he seemed to attach to it should be considered a major victory for gay rights campaigners. It shows how far they've come.

This is the upside to a celebrity-fixated, PR-obsessed world. One celebrity lying back as he chats about who he's dating can make a tangible difference to the lives of millions.

If I were an opponent of gay rights, Daley's relaxed manner would scare me more than any piece of legislation.

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