Tom Daley's coming out video was brave and honest... and something else as well

Perhaps we saw a hint of manipulation too in this piece to camera

Related Topics

The story of Tom Daley is, on so many levels, the quintessential tale of our times. From the bestowing of instant celebrity status to the Internet bullying and, finally, to the manner of the public declaration of his sexuality, this is a three-act morality play which is so “now” that it almost defines the 21st Century media age. Daley's YouTube statement - a five-and-a-half minute “selfie” - in which he explained that he has been in a relationship with a man since the spring and that he has “never felt happier” was in response to the rumours and speculation about his sexuality that have been swirling around in cyberspace for some time.

I can't be alone in thinking that this was too much information. I couldn't care less what Britain's leading 10-metre platform diver does in his private life, as long as children or animals aren't harmed. But, in the modern age, Daley was never going to be able to keep his private life private.

It comes as something of a surprise that Daley has only just finished his A-levels, so long has he been in the media glare. As he says in his touching and articulate YouTube soliloquy, using the language of today's celebrity: “My life has been a little bit of a roller-coaster”. He took part in his first Olympics at the age of 14, immediately became a national figure, and was propelled into a life that has since encompassed product endorsements ( chat show appearances, an autobiography (well, he was 18 at the time), a TV show, and a documentary. He's hung out with Kate Moss (who hasn't?) and been photographed by Bruce Weber for Italian Vogue. He also has 2.5 million followers on Twitter.

In short, he has experienced the classic trajectory of the modern celebrity, even though his notoreity derives from one of the least glamorous, most arcane, sports you could imagine. He has suffered, too, from the reverse side of fame. Bullied at school, he has been the subject of speculation among those who care about these things that he is gay, and has had to endure homophobic taunts on the Internet.

Which brings us to his appearance in the modern confessional box that is YouTube. It's easy to see why YouTube and Twitter are now the preferred platform for celebrity disambiguation. It's mass media without the mediation. There's no chance of words being twisted, or an unintended meaning being applied. The appeal of these channels is that the power is totally vested in the messenger, traditional media are rendered redundant, and the public is left to make up its own mind.

Daley's piece to camera, long-winded though it was, was brave and honest. Nevertheless, I couldn't help thinking that, despite all this directness and openness, we were, on some level, being manipulated. Why didn't Daley simply release a statement, and ask for his privacy to be respected? Did he find the camera just too alluring, knowing he was supplying irresistible footage to every TV channel? Was this, in fact, the action of a man who is hooked on the modern drug of self-publicity? And when does the next series of his show start? Oh, it begins in a month or so.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Day In a Page

Read Next

If I were Prime Minister: I'd champion the young and hold a cabinet meeting on top of Ben Nevis

Bear Grylls

i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot