The British man supposed to steal the headlines in China this week was David Cameron, the prime minister. But it turned out that 19 year-old diver Tom Daley made a splash too.
On Monday Daley posted a video on YouTube announcing that he was in a relationship with another man. Daley said he had been motivated to make the clip because a newspaper had misquoted him two months ago as saying he wasn’t gay.
“In an ideal world I wouldn’t be doing this video, because it shouldn’t matter,” he said. “But recently I was misquoted and it made me feel really angry and frustrated. Honesty is something I believe in.”
Daley has been a well-known figure in China since the Olympics last summer, when he battled with Chinese diver Qiu Bo in the 10-metre men’s platform event.
Daley eventually took bronze behind Qiu’s silver, but the Brit won over Chinese fans thanks to his rippling physique and good looks. As a result many of those commenting on Daley’s announcement were female fans disappointed by the news. “You’ve got to be kidding me – Tom is my sexy god,” wrote one supporter.
There were few, if any, homophobic responses and many made a point of saying how courageous they thought Daley was for posting the clip.
“This is a beautiful video,” wrote one netizen on the popular micro-blogging website Sina Weibo.
Others said they hoped Daley’s message would encourage others – stars and ordinary people alike –
to come out.
“I’m gay. It should be our right to say who we are. Just do it,” wrote one netizen.
Relatively few people are openly gay in China and many of those who hide their sexuality do so for fear it might upset their parents – for whom having a grandchild is often of tantamount importance.
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