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Tom Daley reflects on ‘traumatic’ but ‘liberating’ experience of coming out

The Olympic gold medal-winner revealed he was gay in 2013.

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Tom Daley (Adam Davy/PA)

Tom Daley (Adam Davy/PA)

Tom Daley (Adam Davy/PA)

Olympic diver Tom Daley has said coming out as gay was a “traumatic” experience but he wishes he had done it sooner.

The 27-year-old athlete told GQ magazine that going through the process while being in the public eye was a “surreal” experience.

The Plymouth-born diver came out in 2013.

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Tom Daley has won four Olympic medals (Martin Rickett/PA)

Tom Daley has won four Olympic medals (Martin Rickett/PA)

Tom Daley has won four Olympic medals (Martin Rickett/PA)

He told GQ: “It was kind of traumatic, but then (also) a very liberating experience.

“To be honest, I wish I had come out earlier. I don’t know what that would have been like for me or whatever, but since coming out I’ve felt like I could be myself; all of that pressure comes off.

“I look back and think ‘Imagine if I was out when I was 16, 17, when I first started exploring?’

“One thing that’s hard is exploring sexuality in the public eye.

“I think if I wasn’t in the public eye maybe things would be different. It’s a very surreal thing to have to go through that in the public eye.”

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Tom Daley came out in 2013 (Matt Crossick/PA)

Tom Daley came out in 2013 (Matt Crossick/PA)

Tom Daley came out in 2013 (Matt Crossick/PA)

Daley, who has won four Olympic medals, including a gold in the men’s synchronised 10m platform in Tokyo, also discussed his chances of competing at the Paris Games in 2024.

“It’s difficult, because I know that I’m getting better,” he said.

“I always said that I’ll keep going until my body gives up or until I get the gold medal. And I’ve got the gold medal.

“But my body’s getting better. So there are lots of decisions to be made in the next year or so.

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“This time that I’ve had since the Olympics, when I’ve not been diving, I’ve realised, you know what? I actually miss it. I actually do like diving!

“It’s something that I would probably do recreationally anyway.”

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(GQ/PA)

(GQ/PA)

(GQ/PA)

Daley also recalled his experience of attending the Met Gala fashion event in New York for the first time earlier this year.

He said: “It was at the afterparty. I changed into these trousers (and) when I got out the cab they ripped.

“It wasn’t just like a small rip either. It was like a full, up the crotch, dramatic opening.

“I just went in anyway. I was in a car with (RuPaul’s Drag Race star) Gigi Goode and I asked ‘Can you tell?’ and they were like ‘No’.

“The only time you could tell was if I hoisted my leg up. But it was a conversation starter.”

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Emma Raducanu (ZUMA/PA)

Emma Raducanu (ZUMA/PA)

Emma Raducanu (ZUMA/PA)

Daley also said he bumped into US Open tennis champion Emma Raducanu at the event.

“I remember coming out of the toilet and she was there and I was just like ‘Oh my gosh, congratulations. I’m Tom. I think you’re awesome. What you’ve done and what you’re going to continue to do in the future is going to be so great’.

“And I think she probably was a bit like ‘Oh my gosh, why is he talking to me?’

“I think for her it’s probably just been extremely overwhelming.”

– Read the full feature in the GQ Heroes issue available on digital download and on newsstands from Friday.

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