I can foresee that quite a few people aren’t going to like this post, so I’d like to start off by saying that I’m in no way attempting to offend anyone. However, I cannot (or will not) apologise for stating my opinion, and I genuinely hope that everyone can appreciate this piece as just that – my opinion.
I’ve only had this blog up for a short space of time… it’s actually becoming such an integral part of my life now that I often forget how new it really is. It’s been up for a little more than three months and, although I’ve managed to put out a little over one hundred posts in that time, I can still pretty much remember each one. My very post was about Tom Daley’s official coming out as gay – not his original coming out YouTube video in which he mentioned that he “still fancies girls”, but the subsequent interview in which he shed the bisexual label and came out as gay.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Tom Daley, by that time, had already garnered acclaim and accolades for his diving skill – he was, after all, a bronze medal winner at the 2012 Olympics. However, before his “coming out” video, I swear that I had no idea at all who he was. When every media outlet went into a frenzy over his coming out, my mind drew a complete blank, and that was ok. It’s sad to say this, but I’m not a big Olympic Games follower, let alone the FINA championships that Daley had also succeeded in. As such, despite his international recognition, it was only natural that there would be persons like myself who would not have known who Tom Daley was. However, since Daley’s coming out video, he has become a global sensation, and I don’t think a single week has gone by since then that I haven’t seen something about him in my favourite blogs.
I don’t begrudge Tom Daley this success at all… in fact, as long as he enjoys it, I’m quite happy for him. However, I’d like to point out that with all this new stardom that he has achieved, the majority of his recognition has been fuelled less by his athletic prowess, and more by his looks, his body, and his highly publicised relationship with Oscar winner, Dustin Lance Black. Needless to say, almost all of this attention has been propagated by gay websites, or websites with a predominantly gay following.
This, to me, indicates that Tom Daley’s apparent overnight celebrity status has spawned from two possibilities:
- The fact that he’s gay
- The fact that he’s a young, good-looking gay
I think it’s great when out gay celebrities are recognised for the courage it takes to reveal who they really are in a society (and industry) that would rather that they kept it hidden. I think that it’s even more important that they receive the bulk of their support from the LGBT community. However, I’ve got to wonder if that’s the reason Tom Daley has become such a spoken-about celebrity. Is it just because he’s gay and had the bravery to admit it? If you argue that it is, let me ask you this: then how come the same level of gay media adoration isn’t bestowed upon other out celebrities like Stephen Fry or Victor Garber?
Perhaps, then, the real reason is the second above-stated possibility. In the “Hot 100” August issue of Attitude Magazine, Tom Daley was voted the world’s sexiest man 2014, and I’m afraid that this further leads me to think the way that I do. Rounding out the top ten of the list with him were:
Skipping right over the lack of men of colour (I don’t think Zayn Malik counts), every man mentioned above is undeniably handsome, but I would argue that, unlike Tom Daley, their celebrity status was achieved to a greater extent because of their careers. This isn’t to say that Tom Daley’s diving career has not had an influence in his stardom, but more that an overwhelming fascination with his baby-face and abs has been more of the deciding factor.
I hope that the point of this post isn’t coming out as if I’m bashing any of Tom’s followers for their appreciation of his beauty. There is nothing wrong with recognising that someone is good-looking; for instance, Russell Tovey came in tenth on that list, but in my eyes he is nothing but number one, and I absolutely would – in every which way! Now, while I maintain that Tom Daley isn’t my cup of tea, I readily admit that he is a very good-looking guy. I similarly don’t want it to appear that I’m trying to shame anyone with the worn-out homophobic argument that all gay men are solely interested in youth, beauty and sex. Homophobes are stupid, they will always be stupid, and I don’t believe that any gay person – out or closeted – should ever modify their interests or behaviour with the sole purpose of placating a homophobe.
My preoccupation is, as usual, focused more on closeted LGBT youth. In this instance, it is most particularly fixed on young gay males who may have been indoctrinated into this ridiculous homophobic idea that the gay community is only interested in youth, beauty and sex, especially those who may feel alienated from this “lifestyle” because they don’t fit in with it physically or mentally. We all know how stupid and inaccurate these allegations are, and I don’t believe for a second that this is the intention of any of the blogs and media outlets which seem to have Tom Daley’s youth and beauty as frequent fixtures. I’d just like to lend caution that, for the sake of those young gay men who are most in need of positive imagery and reinforcements of the true nature of the LGBT community, our own actions don’t seem to lend basis to the perpetuation of this accusation.