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Tom Daley reflects on ‘traumatic’ but ‘liberating’ experience of coming out

Tom Daley (Adam Davy/PA)
Tom Daley (Adam Davy/PA)

Olympic diver Tom Daley has said coming out as gay was a “traumatic” experience but he wishes he had done it sooner.

The 27-year-old athlete told GQ magazine that going through the process while being in the public eye was a “surreal” experience.

The Plymouth-born diver came out in 2013.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 – Kitting Out – Birmingham NEC
Tom Daley has won four Olympic medals (Martin Rickett/PA)

He told GQ: “It was kind of traumatic, but then (also) a very liberating experience.

“To be honest, I wish I had come out earlier. I don’t know what that would have been like for me or whatever, but since coming out I’ve felt like I could be myself; all of that pressure comes off.

“I look back and think ‘Imagine if I was out when I was 16, 17, when I first started exploring?’

“One thing that’s hard is exploring sexuality in the public eye.

“I think if I wasn’t in the public eye maybe things would be different. It’s a very surreal thing to have to go through that in the public eye.”

Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards – London
Tom Daley came out in 2013 (Matt Crossick/PA)

Daley, who has won four Olympic medals, including a gold in the men’s synchronised 10m platform in Tokyo, also discussed his chances of competing at the Paris Games in 2024.

“It’s difficult, because I know that I’m getting better,” he said.

“I always said that I’ll keep going until my body gives up or until I get the gold medal. And I’ve got the gold medal.

“But my body’s getting better. So there are lots of decisions to be made in the next year or so.

“This time that I’ve had since the Olympics, when I’ve not been diving, I’ve realised, you know what? I actually miss it. I actually do like diving!

“It’s something that I would probably do recreationally anyway.”


Daley also recalled his experience of attending the Met Gala fashion event in New York for the first time earlier this year.

He said: “It was at the afterparty. I changed into these trousers (and) when I got out the cab they ripped.

“It wasn’t just like a small rip either. It was like a full, up the crotch, dramatic opening.

“I just went in anyway. I was in a car with (RuPaul’s Drag Race star) Gigi Goode and I asked ‘Can you tell?’ and they were like ‘No’.

“The only time you could tell was if I hoisted my leg up. But it was a conversation starter.”

US Open – Day Twelve – USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Emma Raducanu (ZUMA/PA)

Daley also said he bumped into US Open tennis champion Emma Raducanu at the event.

“I remember coming out of the toilet and she was there and I was just like ‘Oh my gosh, congratulations. I’m Tom. I think you’re awesome. What you’ve done and what you’re going to continue to do in the future is going to be so great’.

“And I think she probably was a bit like ‘Oh my gosh, why is he talking to me?’

“I think for her it’s probably just been extremely overwhelming.”

– Read the full feature in the GQ Heroes issue available on digital download and on newsstands from Friday.

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