Don’t hastily label Daley’s sexuality

When British athlete Tom Daley came out, some falsely claimed he was gay.

Eric Best

British Olympian-turned-celebrity Tom Daley revealed he is in a same-sex relationship in a video on his YouTube channel Monday. While the media’s reaction was largely positive, some media outlets and viewers incorrectly assumed Daley was gay.

In the video, titled “Tom Daley: Something I want to say…,” Daley said he wanted to set the record straight after a national newspaper misquoted him regarding his sexuality.

“Of course, I still fancy girls,” Daley said. “But, I mean, right now I’m dating a guy, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Daley’s words reflect an obvious attraction to men and women, or bisexuality. Regardless of whether this was Daley’s only same-sex relationship or one of many, Daley seems to be bisexual, though he did not use the word in his video.

His lack of defining terms should also be a sign to viewers that Daley doesn’t value labeling his sexual orientation.

The Guardian sex columnist Nicki Hodgson said Daley’s lack of labels confused the media. Tabloid newspaper Express labeled Daley “a gay” and focused its coverage on how Daley’s sexuality would help gay people. A variety of viewers — from homophobic to respectful —  took to calling Daley “Tom Gayley” on Twitter.

The media’s reaction shows improvement in the outlook of gay people — specifically male homosexuality — but it also reflected a limited understanding of sexual orientation, specifically the existence of bisexuality.

The situation sends a message to bisexual people that they’re lying to themselves about their sexual orientation or their sexuality is taboo.

For celebrities, bi-visibility is non-existent. Coming out as bisexual still means dealing with rumors of promiscuity, attention-seeking and/or denial.

While all LGBT communities continue to struggle for acceptance, we should be wary of the instinct to label or assume someone’s identity, even if we support them.

Daley struggled with reporters misrepresenting and misquoting his sexuality. Ultimately, it should be his decision what his identity is and how we talk about it, not the media’s.