July 17, 2024

Tom Daley on ‘coming out’ and ‘growing up as a queer person’

With that in mind, Andrew set about gathering together a band of ‘relative outsiders’ who overcame challenges – both personal and socially – to succeed in the world of business, tech, politics, Hollywood, sports and beyond.

Ranging from Troye Sivan to Schitt’s Creekcreator Dan Levy, and Billie Jean King, these stories ultimately show that their queer identities have given them an edge on their journey towards success.

Stylist Andrew Gelwicks had one mission in mind when he starting penning his debut book, The Queer Advantage: Conversations with LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Power of Identity. “This book is exactly what I needed growing up. I was ravenous for any knowledge of what my future could look like as a gay man in this world,” Andrew reveals (pictured below).

“Growing up in the suburbs of Ohio, I didn’t have an idea of what that would or could look like, and I was desperately seeking stories of people I could learn from. The hope, reassurance, advice, and support The Queer Advantage gives is precisely what I craved and needed, and what I hope readers now will receive,” he says.

One of these stories is Tom Daley’s, who famously ‘came out’ on a YouTube video in 2013 in an important step towards having more ‘out’ sports stars. Speaking about the power of this moment and why Andrew approached Tom for the book, he said: “We cannot become complacent and consider where we are now ‘good enough’.

We need more queer actors, actresses, musicians, and artists pushing their way to the forefront of popular culture and into the public eye. That is why I love seeing athletes such as Tom Daley claiming their rightful space and receiving the praise and attention they deserve. Nothing makes me happier than seeing queer people excel in their individual fields and being acknowledged for their greatness. ” Just. Yasss.

We couldn’t agree more and here, in a candid interview with Tom from the book, he discusses coming out, how he thinks the perception of queer men is changing and how he felt like he had to be, “good at something o make up for feeling like I was letting everyone down with my sexuality. ” Regardless of your identity, this extract proves this a book for everyone.

You came out publicly in a video in December 2013. Though it was a tough decision, what positive reactions did you receive that surprised you-professionally, from sponsors, or personally?

It was one of the scariest things to have to do. I was so terrified to press send on that YouTube video. I wanted to get people off my back, continuously asking questions about my love life. I knew I had found love. And I wanted people to know that. Doing a YouTube video was the way I communicated with my fans and was the only way I could say exactly what I wanted to say without getting my words twisted.

Do you feel top heterosexual athletes treat you as an equal?

I haven’t felt any differential treatment towards me as an athlete. But I feel like I am one of the lucky ones. The differential treatment usually comes from some of the fans of the sport in particular. Within sport, we are only as good as we are on the field of play. Our love life isn’t a factor in what we do as sport. In diving, I am judged for how I do my dives. Not who I love. When fans of sports that are less accepting of LGBTQ+ people can see them as human beings playing the sport they love, I think we will see a lot more sports people come out.

Do you think the world’s perception of what a queer man looks like is changing? Specifically, a queer man competing at the highest level in the world.

There are so many ways a queer person can be, look, and feel. Just like a straight person. The whole perception of what is “right” is forever changing. What is a family supposed to look like? What are you supposed to look like? How are you supposed to be? I don’t think the question should be about how people perceive queer men, but how people in general can be perceived. We are all beautiful and extremely different creatures. We have to be free to explore who we are, without judgment from the world.

How has being queer positively impacted your career?

Growing up as a queer person is very challenging. You are always told that you are different and you are less than. That automatically puts you on the back foot and you have to work even harder to prove yourself. Those challenges and obstacles are what have shaped me as an athlete and learning not to care about other people’s opinions and what nasty things other people can say. The best thing to do is concentrate on you and loving who you are.

It’s clear you have tremendous ambition and a great work ethic. Do you think any of those qualities are related to growing up queer?

When you are always seen as an outsider, you have to work even harder. That also comes from myself growing up and feeling like I needed to prove myself by being good at something to make up for feeling like I was letting everyone down with my sexuality.

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