Tom Daley responded to homophobic slurs on Russian state television by saying that sport still has a long way to go to accept LGBT athletes.
Daley was back in action in the 10m platform final, winning bronze to become the first British diver to win four Olympic medals, having previously won synchro gold alongside Matty Lee in Tokyo.
However, he was also the subject of homophobic comments on Russian state television, singled out along with transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand.
Hosts and guests of the official Russian broadcaster used terms such as “perversion”, “abomination” and “psychopaths” to describe LGBT athletes, with Daley and Hubbard being two of the main targets.
The International Olympic Committee expressed concern and contacted the Russian broadcaster in question.
And while Daley was not initially aware of the slurs, he believes sport still has a long way to go when it comes to LGBT rights.
He said: âOf course, this has come a long way. There is still a long way to go, there are ten countries participating in these Olympic Games where being LGBT is punishable by death.
âI feel extremely lucky to represent the GB team, to be able to step on the diving board like myself with a husband and a son and not worry about the ramifications. But I know I’m very lucky to have this and that there are a lot of people growing up in the world with less fortunate situations.
âWhen we’re at the Olympics, it’s kind of like we’re in a bubble and we really don’t see a thing. So I had no idea (about the insults). History shows that everything in society has been dictated by the male, white and straight experience.
âAnd there are so many different perspectives and points of view, whether it’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, whatever.
âThere are so many different points of view and if we can come together and use all of these different points of view then the world would be a better place because we would have a better understanding of others. “
In 2013, Daley revealed that he was in a relationship with a man and that he married her husband Dustin Lance Black in 2017 with their son Robbie, named after Daley’s late father, who was born in June of the following year.
And while he didn’t necessarily want to be a figurehead for LGBT athletes in sports, Daley hopes his experience has helped others.
Daley, whose Tokyo exploits were broadcast live on Eurosport and Discoveryadded: “I just hope that seeing athletes in all these different sports will help people to feel less alone, to feel valued and to be able to achieve something.
“When I was growing up I always knew I was different, I always heard people talk about other people and say bad things and you never thought you could say anything and you you kind of suck in and you feel like you’re never going to be anybody.
âIt takes a lot to go out and speak openly and it can be quite intimidating and scary for people, especially in sports where fans may not be so tolerant. I hadn’t realized the impact it would have on different people in the world to live like myself. I am extremely proud of this.
It’s amazing to think that there was a time when Daley thought he would never be someone. He is now one of, if not the most recognizable athlete on the GB team and an Olympic champion.
He does not hesitate to express himself on major societal issues either. After winning gold in sync, he spoke of his pride in being a gay man and an Olympic champion as he was joined on the podium by divers from China and Russia, two countries where same-sex marriage is prevalent. illegal.
Daley could easily have sat down and enjoyed the adulation that has come to him since his teenage years, putting diving on the map in the UK. The fact that he’s so much more than that might not be popular everywhere, but it’s to his credit that he’s willing to use his platform the way he has.
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