Yesterday, in a five-minute video on his YouTube channel, a British teenager announced he had a boyfriend. Hardly earth-shattering news. And yet, by this morning, the video has been viewed nearly 4.5million times and the teenager’s face graces the front page of many of the national newspapers, both tabloid and broadsheet. What made this simple announcement so apparently momentous is that the teenager in question is the Olympic diver Tom Daley.
In the video, Daley says he was reluctant to make the announcement, but felt compelled to after having been misquoted in a recent interview. ‘Of course I still fancy girls’, he said, but ‘right now I’m dating a guy and couldn’t be happier’.
Tweeting to his over two million followers, the news spread quickly, with thousands upon thousands of people sharing that Tom Daley had ‘come out’ and is gay. News outlets started to carry the story, many - including specialist gay media - headlining the story that Daley is gay.
So having been spurred to make the video after being misquoted, Daley found himself the victim of another misunderstanding. At no point during the five-minute video does he say he is gay, and the fact that he says he still fancies girls indicates that the label isn’t really accurate. Many people pointed out this error, and complaints of ignoring the existence of bisexuals abounded. However, even though if we must use a label ‘bisexual’ is more accurate than ‘gay’, Daley didn’t actually call himself that, either. The video is free from any kind of labelling - the announcement was simply that he had a boyfriend.
The response to Daley’s news was overwhelmingly positive. His fans, fellow sportsmen, singers, celebrities, gay-rights campaigners and many others sent messages of support. A minority who were seen as being disparaging or homophobic were rounded upon, with galleries of shame published on some websites.