Tom Daley Dives Into His Queer Truth For ‘Coming Up For Air’ Memoir


Almost one 12 months after profitable an Olympic gold medal, Tom Daley has waded into the literary world ― and, for the primary time, he’s able to publicly acknowledge the vulnerabilities that lie beneath his record-smashing athletic prowess.

The 28-year-old British diver lays his feelings naked in a new book, “Coming Up for Air: What I Learned From Sport, Fame and Fatherhood.” Launched within the U.S. final month, the guide eschews the standard memoir format. As a substitute, it’s a group of 11 particular person essays that delve into the triumphs and tribulations he’s skilled since being catapulted into the worldwide highlight. Every essay has a novel title — “Perseverance,” “Acceptance” and “Confidence,” amongst others — that refers to a private attribute he says he’s developed in his years as a aggressive athlete.

“I think it’s important, if you’re a visible queer person, to try and help other people and not just sit with your privilege,” Daley informed HuffPost. “As soon as you start beating yourself up about making mistakes, you start to worry about making them in the first place. You stop taking risks and growing as a person.”

Followers will likely be thrilled to know that “Coming Up for Air” particulars Daley’s Olympic gold medal win within the males’s synchronized 10-meter platform on the Tokyo Olympics final 12 months.

However he additionally opens up about grief, physique picture, household and his early fears when it got here to embracing his fact as a homosexual man. He shares anecdotes from his marriage to Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, referred to easily as “Lance” all through the textual content. The 2 males are fathers to a 3-year-old son, Robbie.

“I think it’s important, if you’re a visible queer person, to try and help other people and not just sit with your privilege,” Daley stated.

Laurel Golio for HuffPost

HuffPost caught up with Daley whereas he was visiting New York as a part of his “Coming Up for Air” guide tour final month. Right here’s what he needed to say in regards to the guide, being an LGBTQ rights advocate and, in fact, his love of knitting.

Not like most memoirs, the tales in “Coming Up for Air” aren’t informed in chronological order. Why did you go for that strategy?

Being an Olympian is one factor, however how can I take what I’ve discovered as an athlete and relate it to on a regular basis life? As a result of there are many parallels. It’s similar to the objectives you might need at college, the stresses that you just might need at a job — the teamwork and workforce efforts. So I needed to attempt to make it as simply digestible as attainable, to have one thing that [readers] would possibly have the ability to relate to.

You gained a gold medal on the Summer time Olympics in Tokyo final 12 months. What was that second like?

It was extremely overwhelming as a result of I’ve labored for 20 years to get there. It nonetheless appears very surreal that it even occurred, to be sincere. It’s the one factor that’s saved me going for thus lengthy, the considered profitable an Olympic gold medal. As I clarify within the guide, the subsequent day was the primary day that I wakened with an actual sense of peace. It was an actual sense of: “You know what? We’ve done it.”

Of his decision to come out as gay in a 2013 YouTube video, Daley said: "It was so freeing and had such an impact on my performance in a positive way that I wish I’d done it earlier."<br><br>
Of his choice to return out as homosexual in a 2013 YouTube video, Daley stated: “It was so freeing and had such an impact on my performance in a positive way that I wish I’d done it earlier.”

Laurel Golio for HuffPost

You contact on the occasions that lead as much as your choice to return out in a 2013 YouTube video. When you had been to do it another time, would you alter something about that course of?

It was so liberating and had such an affect on my efficiency in a optimistic approach that I want I’d performed it earlier. Again then, I used to be so scared. I used to be so apprehensive about shedding sponsors. My dad had died a few years earlier than that, and I needed to nonetheless have the ability to help my household. When individuals are telling you that you just would possibly lose sponsors, in fact it’s going to scare you into staying within the closet for longer than you’d wish to.

Within the guide, you point out that you just and Lance had been on an identical skilled trajectories — he’d gained an Oscar for 2008’s “Milk,” you gained a bronze medal within the 2012 Summer time Olympics — if you started relationship. How would you describe your relationship now?

I’d positively say we’re each dreamers. We dare to dream, and we dare to dream huge. If I say: “I really want to do this,” he would possibly say: “Why stop there? Dream bigger. Go bigger. Why not?” If we each wish to do one thing, we’re like: “You know what? We’re going to work hard and make it happen.” We each know what it takes to get to the highest stage in what we do. I do know we’re very lucky, however we prefer to work laborious and actually simply give every part our greatest.

As a queer particular person, do you ever want that your private milestones — getting married, having a toddler — weren’t scrutinized as in the event that they had been political statements?

I really feel like all minorities, indirectly … something we do is indirectly seen as being political. On the finish of the day, all I do know is that I like Lance and I needed to marry him, and we felt actually strongly about having a household. And now, now we have our son that we love dearly. It may appear political to some individuals, however it all comes from a spot of affection.

[Marriage and fatherhood have] modified the way in which I prioritize issues. Simply with the ability to go to the Olympics and know that no matter what occurs, my household will love me and help me, takes plenty of the strain off and permits me to really get pleasure from it. And once I get pleasure from what I’m doing, I get the perfect outcomes.

If Daley has his way, a Fashion Week show focused exclusively on his knitwear could be in his future.
If Daley has his approach, a Vogue Week present targeted completely on his knitwear might be in his future.

Laurel Golio for HuffPost

What do you say to younger LGBTQ individuals who let you know that they give the impression of being to you as a job mannequin?

It’s fairly overwhelming and I by no means actually know what to say. After I got here out, that was by no means my considering. It was extra like: “I just can’t deal with this anymore. I need to just say what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling.” To suppose that individuals might need watched my video after which felt protected and capable of have conversations with their dad and mom or associates … I by no means thought it could ever have that affect.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about your knitting, and your current foray into knitwear design together with your Made With Love brand. Have been you stunned by the eye it acquired?

My coach stated I wanted to seek out one thing the place I may sit down, relaxation and get well, as a result of I’m all the time somebody who’s on the go. Then Lance stated: “People on film sets knit sweaters. Why don’t you give it go?”

My character simply dove straight in. I didn’t wish to do it half-assed. I used to be like: “I’m going to do this, and really learn how to do it.” I didn’t know anybody was going to be fascinated by my knitting. However now, with the ability to move on my ardour for knitting to different individuals via Made With Love … if anyone had informed me 5 years in the past that I’d be an Olympic champion and doing knitwear design … it simply appears so surreal.

What are you dreaming about now, and what do you hope to realize in, say, the subsequent 5 to 10 years?

I’d like to be the principle anchor of the Olympics broadcast for the BBC, or NBC if I’m within the U.S. I’d like to do a Vogue Week present with knitwear. I’d like to broaden our household as effectively.

This interview has been flippantly edited and condensed.


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