The values promoted by the Daily Mail, by decree of its legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre, dictate that the only good and true relationships are heterosexual ones that lead to happily married life and a suitably-sized family of equally happy children. Same-sex relationships are to be at least questioned, if not frowned upon, at every opportunity – or even hatcheted where it is deemed necessary.
Everyone's f***ing straight in my family, c***
But yesterday a problem entered: Olympic medallist Tom Daley, a hugely popular athlete, posted a YouTube video revealing that he was in a relationship with another man. What was the Mail to do? Support of our athletes is mandatory. The paper has already backed him over bullying at school. He was honest and clear in his admission. He’d told his family. And there was the opportunity.
So while the deeply subversive Guardian tells readers “Tom Daley praised as role model after revealing he is in same-sex relationship”, and even the Maily Telegraph concedes “Tom Daley is the most significant British sportsman to come out”, the Mail has to cast doubt on his decision, by saying “what about the grandparents?”, because their comments can be suitably manipulated.
“'We're a little confused as he's always had girlfriends': Grandparents of Olympic diver Tom Daley admit surprise at his relationship with a man but vow to support him”. See what he did by coming out? He confused his poor grandparents. And, as the man said, there’s more: “We’re not old-fashioned, in fact we’re quite liberal. But I do think he’s too young to be making this sort of decision”.
Then there were Daley’s own words to add: “I told the rest of my family today and, well, let’s just say they had mixed opinions. Lots of them wanted me to keep it quiet”. Yeah, he should have kept schtum! That, of course, would have given the press the kind of opportunity they relish: to do the outing before the person concerned. Daley has removed the opportunity. They’re not happy about that.
Call me cynical, but I’m cynical. The Mail is even extracting mileage from the now obligatory trawling of others’ Twitter feeds to see who was offering support, with pride of place going to Russell Brand. Why so? Because the Mail cordially detests Brand, and so by inference any act that he supports must be highly questionable. This bolsters the Mail line. But enough already.
Paul Dacre really should wake up and smell the proverbial coffee. It’s 2013, we’re all comfortable with the fact that some people are gay, and the real news is that Tom Daley has moved the full acceptance of that fact within the sporting world a bit closer. He’s a brave person, and instead of dragging their heels and going “Yeah but”, the Mail should get with the programme.
Still, the story will sell them a few more papers, so that’s all right, then.
I suspect that the Mail, and all other papers, have a deeper problem here and it's nothing to do with who he's in a relationship with.
Tom made a clear, open statement of his own accord, not after having been outed by a tabloid. He did it on his own without the need for a hack to take notes and rewrite them, possibly incorrectly, later. He didn't give any papers a chance to grab sales from it. It's there for every interested person to see for free, without any risk of misinterpretation.
In short, he undermined the whole basis of British "journalism" and he set an example for all other well known people to follow whenever they want to make something clear (cue Nigella?).
And for that, every editor will be looking for a chance to take him down! Give it a few months, wait for the first missed medal and it will be open season.
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