Monday, 2 December 2013

Love social media: admire Tom Daley

Over the last twenty years or so I have seen lots of people come out - and or be outed - by various parts of the press.  So it was with pleasure that I watched Tom Daley's You Tube video today.  A video in which he told everyone he had met someone and he felt 'so happy, safe and everything just feels great - (and) that someone is a guy'.

The fact that social media gave Tom the power to say it in his words, without  'pro or anti gay' interpretation should be celebrated and that power really must not be under estimated.  It is an example of how social media - so often vilified for causing problems - enables the truth to be told in a direct, forthright and human way.  Even the very best journalist with the very best of intentions could not have conveyed Tom's reality and story in the moving and honest way he did.

So next time you are part of a discussion in which social media is demonised please don't collude. For every harm people tell you social media potentially causes I can show you multiple of goods.

And to those who have been cynical about Tom's 'coming out' video don't be. He is brave.  It is no surprise or secret that far far too many people in public roles do feel the need to keep their sexuality hidden. Who does that serve?

Coming out should be easy and in Owen Jones (@owenjones84) words 'when 'coming out' ends the fight for equality will be total'. Owen helpfully puts Daley's video in the context of the journey for LGBT rights. You can read it here

February 2014 is the 11th LGBT History Month.  Daley made history today and showed us that slowly but surely we are edging step by step, mile by mile towards proper equality.  That is the good news, however for the cynics and those who listen to Daley's story and say 'I told you so', the truth is that right now we are a very long way from equality. To belittle or trivialise anyone's story is wrong.

I know Tom Daley is a role model and a lifeline for hundreds and thousands of young people around the world today.  For that, and for Tom's happiness, we should all be truly grateful.  Let use this moment to recommit our efforts to ensure equality not just in the UK, but across the world and to embrace social media as a positive force for change.

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