I am surprised that nobody in my Reader list bothered to write that Tom Daley is dating a man! The diver-cutie-heartthrob after whom many gay people shamelessly lusted is dating a man! I pitied those who sulked after him but I was proven wrong in the end; I should have joined them because, in the end, he is dating a man!
Notice the verbosity here. Apparently, he didn’t say he is gay. He is saying he is dating a man instead of girls (with whom he wasn’t “really serious”). But, having never come out as saying he is gay, I can’t label him one; the term is too restrictive – exclusive to males – and since he claims he still has feelings for female gender, he is not gay. But he is not even saying he is bisexual! He is not saying anything except saying that he is dating a man.
But then it is not that I am dissing him at all; I can testify that coming out is a brave process. It takes lot of courage and the way he gulps and pauses in his coming out video, those who have done it time and again should know. I wish I had a chance to put on a single video so that I don’t have to do this again and again for a variety of people; but he took the plunge in a single bold step that would have been all the more difficult knowing how many bigoted and homophobic people are out there.
Media is speculating what his coming-out does for the larger LGBT(QSAPXYZ) community: whether his not labelling himself is an act of privilege or an act of individualism. To me it is neither, I feel he is just hesitating to say it out loud, I have felt it at so many times myself. Now I am not comparing our situations at all: I am an Indian living in isolation, he is living in a more accepting country whose mother, family and friends support him, but he is also an athlete who must have inculcated a lifelong habit of not expressing his feelings towards men being in such close approximation of his peers in locker room and beyond. Having denied all his life his feelings, it is quite bold to suddenly say you are gay/bisexual/whatever.
Take me, as an example – as we always do, it’s all about me in this blog after all. I now share my stories about being gay etc. to many people but I still keep my feelings towards an actual person in check and in secret. For example, I think I like Sushant, my roommate in Roorkee, but then I like Mittal also as a dear friend. What is the difference? I don’t let myself indulge into the nuances of my feelings for the two. And thus I try to remain aloof to Sushant and make fun of his looks (privately: good looks). He knows I am gay so it gives me even less degree of freedom to appreciate his presence in my life. Isn’t it only civil to keep feelings to yourself in a society if nobody wants to hear it? Now I am not saying here I like Sushant. I am explicitly saying that I don’t know what I feel for him, but then I am not even trying to remove this confusion. That such a confusion exists itself is alarming to me. This is what I call a drape of secrecy; I am not just hiding some secrets from the world (e.g. I am gay) but also from myself (e.g. what I feel for Sushant). I have turned from a real closeted gay man to an abstract, emotionless, semi-outed man. I have unconsciously developed the habit of uteering “gay” in a practiced whisper, saying it mutedly time and again. I still uncomfortable saying “lesbian” out loud.
Can this be happening to Tom Daley? Maybe he is taking it slowly. He has found a man he likes/loves and it is all that means to him. If he is on the market again (that his rabid fans would be wanting for right now), maybe he would be forced to choose a label for himself. That is what they say: ignorance is bliss, because once you know a truth, it is hard to run away from it. When you are transparent to truth, there is no inner battle, but once you become conscious of it, contradicting it takes a mental dissonance. And when it is too much, people commit suicide or just come out (healthier option). I hope for the sake of British Diving Team that he is experiencing no cognitive dissonance (even if it means less medals for India [as if it wins any medals in diving :D ]).
But then I have too much time on hand. Whatever Tom Daley is or is not, he is certainly brave as I have said before. That such a video exists itself would impact the lives of so many people in his area. In his own way, he changed the world for the better.
So what does it mean for me immediately? It means I can share a picture of Tom Daley here without feeling the guilt of staring at a straight man:
…that lucky bitch who got this!