Since Tom Daley came out publicly in December 2013, people have been quick to say that they knew it.
In a video on YouTube, Daley came out as pansexual, being attracted to people, rather than their gender. However, this was largely questioned, including by members of the LGBT community, as it was obvious he must be gay.
What is it about Daley that makes people so sure about his sexuality? His appearance? His manner? His voice? The fact he is engaged to Dustin Lance Black? Why are people so quick to police his identity?
Daley recently opened up to The Times about identifying as queer:
“I am not 100 percent straight, I’m not 100 percent gay, I’m just queer. My generation, I think, are more fluid.”
“The word a lot of people are using now is queer, instead of labelling yourself as lesbian, gay or transsexual. Queer is, like, a better word. It doesn’t define you, it’s questioning. People say, ‘You like boys,’ but I’ve liked girls too. My generation shouldn’t feel the need to be labelled; we are too obsessed by gender.”
Daley is correct, we are brought up with such a specific idea of what it means to be a boy or a girl, shaping our thoughts on our future relationships. The LGBT+ community struggles against society to blur the lines of cultural norms and break apart the binaries of gender and sexuality.
We are now more enlightened to different sexualities and genders, for example being pansexual, non-binary or genderfluid. So with this being the case, why do we question Daley’s reluctance to identify as gay? If we encourage everyone to be their true selves, then why is there a difference in that Daley’s sexuality can be policed, simply because he’s a public figure?
It’s possible that Daley identifying as pansexual is similar to gay men first coming out as bisexual. It’s a stepping stone, to feel more normal. It’s not so gay, if you still like girls… This is the experience of many gay men, hanging on to closet, before coming to terms with their gayness.
However, to impose this on Daley is to invalidate pansexuality as a valid identity. If Daley says publicly that he is attracted to both men and women, and that he identifies as queer, then it’s not the public’s responsibility to question that. Especially people from within his own community.
As much as someone may feel Daley presents himself in a way that they would define as definitely gay, that’s really none of their business. Having stereotypically gay qualities doesn’t make someone any more gay. Being gay isn’t a hierarchy, we are a part of a community and should be able to live in the way we feel in the moment, and support each other in society.
You should identity however you please. If you identify one way, and then change your mind, that’s ok, too!
Tom posted a photo of himself and Lance attending their baby shower on his instagram.
Daley has been in a relationship with screenwriter Dustin Lance Black for almost 5 years. They were recently engaged, and revealed they are set to have their first child later this year. He’s living his life the way he wants to, and that’s the only thing that matters.