British diver Jack Laugher says he wouldn’t have a problem being a gay athlete and that “everyone should feel comfortable to be gay”.
The 18-year-old Yorkshireman, who is straight, made the comments in an interview for Gay Times (GT).
Whilst criticising the decision to host February’s Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi, Laugher said it would be wrong to boycott the Games in response to Russia’s anti-gay laws.
“I think they’re absolutely disgusting; I really do not believe in their laws, I’ve read all about it and seen it on the TV and they’re so wrong.”
“You can’t cancel them because people have been training for years,” he added: “There’s a lot of politics around the whole thing, but I think people should say something if they are thoroughly against it – as to whether they do, it’s a different matter.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure not to say bad things about the Olympics, or any of the people or other athletes. You cannot slag off another athlete or anything, and the actual Olympics are great – it’s where it is that’s the problem.”
He also said sport needed to treat homophobia as seriously as racism. “Sport should take it more seriously. It should be absolute – if you say something that can be offensive and someone could take offence, like racism, insulting gay people should be an instant ban or some kind of penalty so it just doesn’t happen.”
Laugher represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics but failed to make it to the semi-final stage.
When asked by GT’s Benjamin Butterworth if he would be comfortable to be an openly gay diver? Laugher replied: “Yeah definitely! Any sport you should be able to be openly gay in. I have quite a few gay friends, just from school and people I’ve met through diving and my journey. Everyone should feel comfortable to be gay and be who they are.
“With diving it doesn’t really matter – you’ve got the middle-aged women and young girls anyway, and then gay men. That’s the entire fan base, and that following would be supportive.”
Laugher then paid a handsome complement to his fellow British diving colleagues Tom Daley and Chris Mears. “Tom Daley is nice and tanned, and that draws in quite a gay following!” Laugher told GT. “Tom’s poses are pretty questionable though! At the end of the day people might laugh at them, but if I do well I can laugh back! Tom and Chris [Mears] both look good. So good. They’re very handsome lads. But they’re my best friends, so I’m alright saying that!”
Asked if he had any ‘man crushes’, Laugher replied: “My man crush? Who’d make a good husband for me? Well – actually, no I won’t say him, he’s quite old…
“Well, only because he’s got an amazing voice.
“OK, Will Smith sounds like he’d make a great husband – he’d be very caring and a good cook. If Will Smith had David Attenborough’s voice. I’ve got a man crush on his voice, but maybe with a different person for a body…”