Monday, 2 December 2013

Tom Daley: An Inspiration To Us All

It's a very inspired move for Tom Daley to come out as gay, but there is something about this that makes me feel a little uneasy. Has he made this move because of media pressure, as happened to dear Steven Gately--the theory being that it's better to tell ones own tale cleanly and decently than have one's character sullied by the gutter press?
I hope not. Pete Murray and I were doing a live two-hour broadcast in London in 1998--about Rudolph Valentino's sexuality, of all things--when there was a newsflash to say that Justin Fashinu had hanged himself because of homophobic bullying. Pete's comments--and my own--to a horrible woman who called in and said some truly nasty things about Justin and Rock Hudson--set the airwaves alight. There were more than a few complaints, but the station stuck by us. This same woman also had a go at the actor who played Tosh on The Bill, who had also died that week--the papers had bullied him relentlessly for weeks about his drinking.
Tom is an inspiration to young people all over Britain who may be battling to come to terms with their sexuality, faced with an ever constant barrage of bullying, especially at school, and homophobia. Of course, there is a big difference between an Olympic medallist and a kid from Brixton or Lambeth--Tom has the cordon of protection around him while they do not.
I only hope that Tom's career does not suffer in account of his bravery. I don't doubt that by the weekend the whole world, courtesy of the dish-rags, will know the identity of his boyfriend. And those bullies should remember two things. One, he is still the same person today as he was before he made his announcement. Two, he is better than the bullies.
Good luck, Tom! Britain loves you!

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