On BBC Sport's negative article about Tom Daley's coming out

I was surprised to see Matt Slater at BBC Sport managed to slide such a snide feature on Tom Daley past his BBC editors. Take a read of  "Tom Daley's coming out shouldn't matter - but it does"

The tone is horrible isn't it? And the content is misleading...

Slater uses former BP chief executive Lord Browne's outing as an example of how coming out is terrible for one's career. Lord Browne wasn't chastised simply for coming out, he was in office as chief executive of BP while a massive explosion occured in Texas in which 15 workers died. Lord Browne didn't immediately resign and the Daily Mail began digging into his background, they discovered that he was living in a closeted homosexual relationship with a rent boy. This is a far cry from young Tom's scenario wouldn't you say! And why did Slater deliberately omit these colossal facts from his piece?

On the matter of sponsorship, Slater speculates that it might be an issue for Daley now that he is openly gay, claiming that international companies don't like supporting gay people. The CEO of Apple is gay, the second in command of Google is gay and there are uncountable clothing manufacturers out there who have gay creative directors. So what on earth is Slater jibbering on about?

Slater patronisingly admits that Daley's in a tier of celebrity that is unheard of for a "humble tumbler" but forgets how the gay community played a key part in pedalling Daley's status as a pin-up in the first place.

As for the Russian Olympics, while there is a terrible anti-gay crisis occurring there yes, that is no reason for us to all suddenly closet ourselves, and there's absolutely no need for Matt Slater to fear monger in the BBC Sport pages. Thank God some of us in the gay community have bigger balls than Mr. Slater, otherwise we'd all be quaking in our leather boots.

Besides, Tom won't even be performing at the Winter Olympics because he's a gay diver not a gay figure skater.

The BBC should provide unbiased factual content, and while Matt Slater does his best to conceal what seems to me like a distaste towards gay culture and the implications of it not being a hidden cult, I think he could have done a little bit better in congratulating young Tom for taking control of his own coming out.

As for Slater's facetious comment on "why don't we hear about teenagers coming out as straight?" Well obviously that is because we live in a world catered beyond proportion towards straight people and so it is taken as a given that new human beings will be straight.

I wouldn't usually waste space on my blog with opinion pieces on such Sports articles but the BBC website is forbidding comments on Slater's wishy washy rush job of a piece. I don't think Matt Slater is a homophobe or bigot, but I thought his piece was a bit silly, very unhelpful, and generally just a bit awful.

You can tweet me @jackcullenuk


  1. Quite right. I was annoyed not to be able to comment on the BBC, given that it was a top rated article on the BBC News website all day.

    People in my office were just saying "We knew he was gay" rather than saying "Good for him". When challenged they would say "Good for him", but the BBC article didn't foster any such opinions.

  2. Hi Jack, I though it might be helpful if I answer some of your criticisms here.

    1) My managers commissioned the piece and were very pleased with it. It was promoted around the BBC site and the feedback from the audience was great. Near universal praise would probably describe it.

    2) I did not use Lord Browne as an example of the problems that can be faced when somebody comes out, just the opposite, in fact. I used him as an example of the problems that can be faced of staying in the closet. Which is what he told R4's World at One. As far as I can tell, you are the only person to have misunderstood this. That is why the rest of his story is irrelevant to Daley's.

    3) Graeme Obree made the point about international sponsorship, not me. Browne alluded to it on R4, too. I have no idea if they are right or not.

    4) Yes, there are plenty of openly gay people in different sectors - Browne made the same point - but not so many in sport, particularly team sport, which is one of my main points.

    5) I don't use Matthew Mitcham as an example of somebody who lost sponsorship at all. I genuinely don't understand why you would think that. I only mention Mitcham right at the end, along with Louganis, as a great role model for Daley going forward.

    6) Sorry, I'm confused. Russia's anti-gay laws aren't a problem? They're not something journalists should challenge? They're compatible with the Olympic ideals? You don't think they might be contributing to a pretty frightening situation for gay men and women in Russia?

    7) Diving isn't in the Winter Olympics? I had no idea. My bad.

    8) You imply that I have provided biased and unfactual content....and then make an unfounded and entirely speculative comment about my feelings on gay culture. I think it is the hypocrisy of this paragraph that has most annoyed me.

    9) You then skip back to one of the three rhetorical questions in the middle piece...and massively misinterpret the point.

    10) It's not my decision to add a comments form to a feature or not but my guess is that they didn't add one to this to avoid the risk of naughty adolescents making homophobic remarks.

    Hope that helps. And good luck with your own writing career. I suspect you will need it.

  3. No Matt, I disagaree. I don't dispute the facts in the article but, as Jack said, the tone is wrong. This is the most positive story in ages for gay people and the only positive story for gay sports people in a very long time. I think you should have written this in a positive light.