Sexuality, coming out and labels
Yesterday, Olympic medal-winning diver Tom Daley told the world (via YouTube) that he is happily dating a man. I first read about this on the BBC news website and straight away pounced on the fact that, although Daley said he still fancied women, the article contained no mention of the word bisexual. I erroneously attributed this to bi-invisibility, but several people corrected me straight away – Daley himself had not used that word in his video, therefore, why should anyone else feel it appropriate to choose a label for his sexuality?
Hanging my head in shame, I realised that I should have watched Daley’s video before commenting. If I had, I’d have seen a young man who is happy in love and feels no need to label what he feels. Sexuality is a strange thing to define. It’s not binary, or even linear. Although many people feel that their sexuality is fixed, others can find that it is rather fluid throughout their lifetime. You might start out desiring people who are a different gender to you, feel more attracted to people of the same gender in your 20s, and then discover that you fancy everyone in your 30s. To paraphrase Doctor Who, it’s a bit more “wibbly-wobbly sexy-wexy.” As a society, we’re slowly heading towards a point where everyone will realise this. As Owen Jones pointed out on the Independent’s website, one day ‘coming out’ won’t be a thing – and the reaction to Tom Daley’s announcement shows we’re getting there:
There are LGBT people out there, dealing with self-loathing, fearing the rejection and ridicule of relatives, friends and workmates, terrified about deviating from what is seen as the normal portrait of family life. A celebrated athlete beaming about how his life has changed because he has found happiness with another man is just another puncture to that fear and hate.
The more mainstream society hears about relationships that are different to the majority, the less weird it will seem. The more folk who are out and proud – with or without labels – the more confidence it will give young people to be themselves. Every coming out brings with it a little bit more education, as I have discovered myself this time. Thanks for being honest, Tom Daley. Who would have thought the world could have loved you any more?
If you have questions regarding alternative sexuality, gender and sex, I suggest you check out the rather fabulous QUILTBAG 101 as it is a great place to start. Image via swimming.org