Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

"It shouldn't be news, but it is ..."

Tom at last year's London Olympics
Tom makes a bigger splash... as now does Ian Thorpe, who had been denying he was gay for years ...

One man's face stares out from the front of most of today's front pages - the Olympic diver Tom Daley, who's announced he's in a relationship with a man. For a teenage sports person to do this in their own way on that YouTube video is quite a surprise.
The London 2012 bronze medallist's video statement was roundly applauded by the press, with THE INDEPENDENT's front page hailing him a "new gay icon". THE DAILY TELEGRAPH's Matt cartoon depicts the public- watching TV on the sofa - holding up boards awarding 9.5 and 10 out of 10.
Gay rugby international Gareth Thomas, writing in THE MIRROR says Daley will look back on Monday as "the best day of his life", while former international rugby referee Nigel Owens, who came out in 2007, calls it a "brave and wise decision" in THE GUARDIAN. 
THE SUN's showbiz editor Dan Wootton recalls coming out at the same age as Daley as "liberating and life-changing", while his paper announces the "war for tolerance is slowly being won in Britain". 
In her DAILY EXPRESS column, Vanessa Feltz says she ignored the story on the grounds that "people's sexual proclivities don't constitute news". However, THE DAILY MAIL recalls Daley's biographer being asked about the diver's sexuality before the London Olympics. 
THE INDEPENDENT's Owen Jones says "It shouldn't be news, but history shows it is". He contrasts Daley being "bombarded with love and support" with the fact that in 1983 "half of Britons believed same-sex relations were always wrong" but points out that LGBT people "are still abused, beaten up and yes, even killed in modern Britain". 
And Matthew Parris, in the very positive 3-page coverage in THE TIMES wishes he had the courage to come out as a younger man, writes that Daley will now face the forces of intolerance attacking him in a different way, by asking: "Why don't you just shut up about it?"
Political commentator Jo Phillips, reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, said it was "terribly sad" that someone should feel compelled to publicly reveal their sexuality. Her fellow guest, the Sunday Telegraph business editor Kamal Ahmed, said it was "still a big issue" in sports. But a sports marketing representative doubted his high earning potential would be damaged at all. "I think it may actually improve his marketability ... He's clearly addressed the situation before any tabloid stories emerge. We live in a modern world and sponsors and brands in general are much more flexible and broad in their views nowadays - in a world where companies are conscious of their image and their social responsibility they want to appeal to as broad a spectrum as possible". Gareth Thomas also says "To make the most of his ability a sportsman needs to focus on his sport, and that is so much easier if his personal life is happy and stable. So I can only see this helping Tom in the next phase of his career.". 

Daley though is still a teenager, at 19, sexuality can be very fluid at that age ... straight people do not have to announce they are heterosexual, but at least now Tom can continue with his diving and show business careers (his series SPLASH returns in the new year and is delicious fun as he trains "celebrities" how to dive), and presumably his sponsorship deals will continue. The pressure on sports people to be seen to be straight is still there, no main footballers have come out. An interviewer with Tom last year asked if he had a girlfriend - at a time when he was coping with his father's death, studying for his exams, swimming as much as he could every day and being the breadwinner for his family, yet they wanted him to have a girlfriend as well! At least now those tabloids cannot stalk him and try to get a story ... The main tabloid THE SUN is very positive about Tom now, whereas back in the bad old days of the '80s they probably hastened the early deaths of closeted tv presenters Russell Harty and Kenny Everett by hounding them even to their hospital beds ... now at least, young actors like popular Ben Whishaw (I am seeing him on the stage in MOJO this week) and Russell Tovey can also be open about their sexuality without it affecting their marketability, as well as singers/musicians like Frank Ocean and John Grant - unlike even a decade ago when gay boyband members trembled in the closet as the tabloids got George Michael, Stephen Gately and Will Young to out themselves before being rumbled... 

Meanwhile, the other good story, is that the bigots have been defeated again. Yes, Hazelmary and Peter Bull have lost their final appeal to the supreme court to overthrow that legal verdict, so they could continue to ban gay couples from their Hotel in Cornwall. The Bulls you see are so Christian that they simply cannot allow unmarried couples to share a bed under their roof. Somehow, I can't picture them asking any heterosexual couple who turn up to show their marriage certificate to prove that they are legally married in order to get a room. Now, poor Hazelmary and Peter will have to obey the law of the land, that if they are providing services at their establishment, they have to treat everyone the same, and not turn away those who do not fit in with their perceived beliefs, like they did with that gay couple who then took them to court. Another victory for common sense! The Bulls should realise they are running a business, that means obeying Health & Safety legislation and also legislation on equality. This couple should retire if they don't believe in equality - they couldn't turn away blacks or muslims, but they want to with gays? They end up looking very foolish and have drawn attention to the worst apsects of outdated 'religious' bigotry.

No comments:

Post a Comment