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Olympian Tom Daley Talks Fatherhood, Coming Out, and Being an Advocate

Author: Trudy Ring

Becoming a parent has helped Olympic diver Tom Daley realize his athletic performance isn’t everything — and actually helped him win gold.

“As soon as you’re a father, your kid becomes priority,” Advocate cover star Daley told Pride Today’s Stephen Walker in an interview upon the U.S. release of Daley’s memoir, Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood. Daley and his husband, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, have a son, Robert “Robbie” Ray Black-Daley, who will be 4 in June.

“Number one, it’s like that’s the most important thing,” Daley said. “So you then start to see things slightly differently. So when you go to the pool or if you don’t have a good day at the pool … you don’t define yourself by your performance all the time.”

“So being able to have that perspective really helped,” he continued. “So going into the Olympics the last time around, where we ended up winning … I just felt so loved, so supported. And I was like, you know what, no matter what happens here … the most important thing is that I’m gonna go home to a family that loves and supports me no matter what.”

What happened at the Tokyo Olympics last summer was a stellar performance. Daley and diving partner Matty Lee won the gold medal for Team Great Britain in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform diving event.

Daley was gratified that the games had the biggest presence ever of out athletes, but he sees room for more progress. “The nice thing is that the last Olympics in Tokyo had more out athletes at that one games than all of the previous combined,” he told Walker. “So there is progress being made and, you know, looking back into 2012, I think there were only 23 out athletes. … I was one of them that was in the closet in London, 2012.”

“To be able to give people that are living in countries where it might be where it’s criminalized or they feel like they’re not gonna fit in … to be able to see athletes being out and competing and doing well, I think can give athletes hope and people hope that they can see a life for themselves,” added Daley, who has spoken out against the criminalization of same-sex relations in countries around the world. “It’s not something that can just be fixed overnight, but I do think that there is such power when it comes to visibility and being able to use your platform to speak out and make people around the world feel like they exist and feel like they have a place on this planet.”

Writing the memoir was an exercise in nostalgia for Daley, now 27. “You kind of go back through your whole life in a really weird and detailed way,” he said. “And then lots of things come up from memories and stories. And when you start talking to people, it’s also a really good sense of perspective ’cause you go back and then you look at how I was thinking and what I was feeling when I was 14 years old in the Beijing Olympics. … I did a diary, every single Olympics, like a handwritten diary. And just being able to go back and read that and be back in the voice of my childhood self and then see how I’ve like developed and matured as an athlete and as a person over the years. It’s a really nice process.”

He was a bit worried about his grandparents reading the book, he noted. Most of his family and friends were accepting when he came out as gay, but a few weren’t OK with it. “It takes different family members, I think that’s one thing I’ve learned, different amounts of time to fully understand it, fully get to terms with it. And now our relationship is building is getting better and I’ve also had a cousin that’s come out, and they didn’t make the same mistakes with him as they did with me. So it’s been a journey with some family members, but you know, we’re getting there.”

Watch the full interview below, and read more about Daley in The Advocate’s cover story.

Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

My name is David but my online nick almost everywhere is Altabear. I'm a web developer, graphic artist and outspoken human rights (and by extension, mens rights) advocate. Married to my gorgeous husband for 10 years, together for 24 and living with our partner of 1.5 years, in beautiful Edmonton, Canada.

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