Desmond Kane

Brave Tom Daley deserves happiness after personal tragedy

Desmond Kane

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Having lost his father to cancer in 2011, there should be more to trouble Tom Daley than feeling he has to go public to declare the news that he is in a relationship with another man.

At the age of 19, Daley is a British diving champion who is still trying to find himself as a human being, his identity and what works for him in life. Juggling personal priorities with professional commitments is a tough old business when you are probably searching for answers about the meaning of life, and what makes you tick.

His sexuality is merely one strand of his development as Daley makes the transition from callow youth to adulthood. Despite the cult of celebrity that has clamped itself to Daley, living cannot be easy amid the massive tragedy that has visited his door.

Losing his dad Robert, who was only 40 when he died after a battle with brain cancer, would have been a crushing blow to someone so young. This all hit him before he had completed his schooling.

In his private moments, Daley must feel like he has been shorn of his support network. The trademark smile must hide a lot with his mum being forced to deal with such ongoing grief. It all remains very raw.

His dad died without fulfilling his wish of seeing Tom compete at last year's London Olympics. If he had lived, he would have seen his son collect a bronze from the platform having fished gold out of the pool at the European and World Championships in previous years.

Daley is obviously a splendid ambassador for his country. He has occupied such a role since diving at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 aged only 14.

If young Tom has found solace with another guy, this should be viewed as welcome news. If it works for him and his state of mind, that can only be beneficial to his well-being.

As long as he and his partner are happy with each other, and are not hurting one another, they should be allowed to get on with it.

There is a memorable quote from Billy Crystal at the end of the film Analyze This when his psychologist character passes on some advice to a married couple sifting through their problems.

"I would do whatever it takes," says Crystal. "Smoke some joints! Drink some wine! Whatever it is, to get off on each other and be happy. I mean, come on, look at the two of you! Where are you running? This is the time to be happy! Life is just too short! Too f***king short!"

Sadly, Daley's revelations suggest that he does not share such a viewpoint. There is every chance Daley was probably concerned that if he did not break the news to the masses, some tabloid newspaper would take the decision out of his hands.

The minor gripe one would have is the manner of his PR-spun "coming out" on a sort of stage-managed video titled 'Something I want to say..' on You Tube. He looked slightly uneasy, but the reaction has largely been supportive and positive. Goodness knows why he has apparently encountered a mixed response from some family members. This is no big deal. Not when he is only 19.

Daley says he continues to like women, but has fallen for a man. Who cares? He will probably remain a sex symbol for men and women. It will not damage him in the longer run, nor his earning potential. It may even enhance his appeal.

This news is about as important as hearing that Daley will soon be revisiting the so-bad-it-is-good ITV series Splash as mentor to "celebrity" divers next month.

It is slightly depressing that what should be viewed as old news or non-news in 2013 continues to attract such attention. Which tells you enough about how far we have yet to go in changing attitudes. We should long for the day when all of this is treated as irrelevant trivia.

Does anybody really care if Daley is gay, straight, bi-sexual or asexual? As long as he is a good person. That is all that matters.

This onlooker feels Daley's appearance on Splash is more memorable than his speech on YouTube, but sadly there remain some homophobes out there that will use Daley's decision to 'out himself' as some sort of criticism, as if he is a lesser man for being gay. As if he is suddenly suffering from some affliction.

We do not live in Saudi Arabia or Iran where homosexuality is punishable by death, but Britain still has some way to go to move out of the dark ages if what Daley said yesterday is remotely interesting to news outlets.

We have moved on from the days of Quentin Crisp, but coming out of the closet via YouTube continues to startle some.

Old habits die hard as do attitudes in these parts. Would Tom Daley declaring himself heterosexual command similar interest?

After the death of his dad, he more than most deserves a break. Time is precious. It is the most important commodity in life.

A helicopter somehow crashed into a pub in Glasgow on Friday night killing nine people. There are much more important things going on around us. Imagine if your mother or father went to the pub, and never came back? The thought is too horrific to think about.

This onlooker used to be of the view that only a man and a woman should be allowed to marry, but the appalling conduct of some couples altered opinion on that.

There is more respect and trust between some gay couples than there could ever be between some heterosexuals.

Some heterosexual relationships are a shambles, some have made a mockery of marriage and some children have been used like pawns in a game without being brought up properly. The concept of feral children belongs to broken relationships.

Rather than race, creed, colour or gender, it all comes down to the individuals involved.

Daley has benefited from having a mother and father who were committed to their kid. Let us hope Daley will progress to fulfil his dreams in diving whether that is with a man, woman or nobody supporting him.

"If I could be half the dad that my Dad was to me then that would be my best achievement! I love you!," said Daley after his father died.

Life is too short to sweat the small stuff. It is all small stuff.

More importantly, we should all wish young Tom well on his return to the slightly eccentric but oddly enticing Splash.

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