Last week, former X Factor contestant and Big Brother’s Bit On The Side host Rylan Clark caused a little controversy saying that Tom Daley’s coming out was overdone and such a fuss was not made over openly gay celebrities such as Gok Wan, Graham Norton and Alan Carr. However, I can understand why this happened.
Firstly, social media is a big thing. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are huge. You can share something and it can become viral in an instant. YouTube works in exactly the same way. You upload a video and it can become viral. Add to the mix a male celebrity that many people know and is very much in the public eye doing something that was arguably not foreseen. There were some members of the public that were shocked, and some that were not. It has always seemed to me that Tom Daley has very much had a gay following from the outset, or at least a faithful following of wishful thinkers. As a prominent, cute, good looking younger gay man, it was bound to be breaking news.
Generally speaking, and of course there are exceptions, it seems to me that once society sees you with a member of whichever gender in a sexual or compassionate relationship, you are automatically one or the other. Society is yet to fully recognise bisexuality, instead preferring to fence celebrities into rigid set binaries. Tom Daley had girlfriends, but the fact that he is bi has been seemingly overruled by this one relationship in the public eye. Many jumped on the “He’s gay so he just loves men, he can’t have fancied or loved a woman beforehand” bandwagon. It shows an ignorant knee-jerk reaction and an unsavoury perception of bisexuality as a precursor to finding your “true” sexuality.
It also seems that Daley is living through what many gay men experience when freshly out of the closet. Everything becomes ‘gay’ and the fact you are gay becomes a novelty. This can be seen with Daley and his Christmas rainbow themed presents. When I came out, the first thing I wanted to do was to go to Pride and wear tight clothes. Highly stereotypical and whilst, for some gay men that stereotype fits, for many the novelty wears off. And it will for Tom. Look at Neil Patrick Harris. At first everyone was hung up on the fact he was gay, now no one really cares. The reason why celebrities such as Rylan, Gok and Graham, who have never “hidden their sexuality,” have never had such an initial fuss made about them being gay was because that novelty had worn off and there was never any suspicions over it. They were never seen romancing women, and the stereotypes they matched up to made it easier for the public to accept them. Daley was more of a surprise, a surprise which provoked the hurricane that followed.
In retrospect the media coverage was overdone, as ultimately it was just a guy making a video about someone who made him happy, cautiously fearful of what everyone might think. But if one in the closet teen comes out because of its exposure and reception, then that is a good thing.