Sam Bannister writes for PinkNews on why he thinks it is important that Tom Daley revealed that he is in a relationship with a man, and says that it is now more important than ever that those in the LGBT community stand together.
When I was 14 years old, I penned a love note to a boy in my class I had a crush on. When Essex schoolboy Ayden Keenan-Olsen was 14 years old, he laboured over a suicide note.
I laughed about my letter with a friend, and put it in the bin. Ayden wrote two suicide notes, and took an overdose of prescription drugs.
It’s hard to believe the same country in which schoolchildren are taking their own lives over homophobic bullying is today congratulating Tom Daley for announcing he is in a relationship with a man.
Coming out stories have made the front pages of newspapers before — but not always for the best reasons.
Today, however, they are unanimous in their praise for the bravery of a 19-year-old Olympic star who courageously told the world he was in love with somebody of the same sex.
There was no fanfare about Tom’s announcement. He didn’t splash it (pardon the pun) on the front page of a tabloid. He told his followers using nothing but a phone and a YouTube account.
But beneath this casual announcement, there was surely a lot of thinking, and a lot of questioning whether he was doing the right thing. That’s a feeling that anybody who has ever had to come out is surely familiar with.
So I was shocked at how many people, particularly within the LGBT community, who reacted to Tom’s announcement with disdain.
It’s not newsworthy, they said. Who cares? He isn’t brave. Being gay is not a big deal any more.
I beg to differ.
The LGBT community did not spend the last few decades getting beaten up, attacked, spat on, and killed, just so we could sneer at other guys for coming out.
It will be of great comfort to young LGBT kids who see this shining example and realise there is nothing wrong with who they are.
If I had seen someone like Tom Daley come out when I was a schoolboy, I might have felt a lot better about myself. Perhaps Ayden Keenan-Olsen would too, and all the others who fall victim to homophobic abuse every day.
Instead of deriding Tom for revealing his relationship, we should be applauding him together.
Instead of mocking the news agenda for picking up the story, we should be applauding anything which puts positive role models forward for young people.
We don’t have a choice about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, but we do have a say over how we treat each other.
Hopefully some day, revelations like this won’t matter. But we’re not there yet. Until that day comes, it’s down to brave young people with a camera phone and a YouTube account to tell the world they are happy just as they are.
As with all comment, this article does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.co.uk
Sam Bannister is a Portsmouth-based newspaper journalist and avid Pink News reader. He tweets at @sambannister.