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Tom Daley Joins CN's Anti-Bullying Campaign

tvkids_logoBy Joanna Padovano
Published: November 16, 2015

LONDON: Cartoon Network has partnered with British Olympic diver Tom Daley to launch the next phase of its
international anti-bullying initiative, CN Buddy Network, in the U.K.

CN Buddy Network encourages young people to “Be a buddy, not a bully,” aiming to raise awareness and empower kids to take action against bullying. Daley appears in an on-air campaign that debuts on Cartoon Network today and also includes an original series of animated shorts spotlighting the viewpoints of the bully, the bullied and the observer. The initiative is being launched in collaboration with ChildLine, a U.K. helpline that provides immediate advice and support to those in need.
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Children can visit CartoonNetwork.co.uk/beabuddy for more information, resources and professional advice. They can also watch the original animated shorts and video messages from Daley, English rapper Tinie Tempah and ChildLine ambassador and volunteer counselor Anna Williamson on Cartoon Network UK’s YouTube channel.

Daley commented: “I jumped at the chance to work with Cartoon Network and ChildLine on this as I know only too well what it feels like to be bullied. I had things thrown at me at school and was rugby tackled on the school field for no reason and it made me feel terrible. It made me question whether I wanted to be a diver if it meant suffering in this way as a consequence. It was such a relief when I finally told someone.

“My advice: if you’re being bullied, or you know someone that is, please remember that it’s not your fault and you’re not alone. Bullying is never acceptable and there is nothing shameful about asking for help—speaking up is the first step in making things better.”

Williamson noted: “Bullying is still one of the most common issues that children call ChildLine about but the difference is that nowadays it can follow children wherever they are. It’s not just in the playgrounds or on the way to and from school. It’s in their pockets—it follows them on their phones, on social networks as well as face to face and the 24-hour nature of it can be relentless. For some children it seems like there’s no escape which can cause anxiety and distress. It is so important that we, as adults, take time to listen to our children and help support them through bullying issues. It is also important to keep up with online issues so we can help children navigate safety settings and block unwanted contact. And if children feel they can’t talk to anyone, they can always contact ChildLine, 24/7 for confidential advice and support.”

Ian McDonough, the senior VP and managing director of Turner Broadcasting for Northern Europe, added: “Our work with ChildLine has reaffirmed the fact that many of our Cartoon Network audience are affected by bullying every single day, whether in person or online. This is a very real issue and it’s important to us to address it in any way we can to show our viewers that there is help and support out there. Our series of short anti-bullying cartoons and Tom Daley PSA gently address the issue, encouraging kids to talk about their experiences, be a good friend and offer support to others.”

What happens when a sportsman comes out as gay?

 

This year, a new play told the story of rugby player Gareth Thomas, one of the world’s most prominent gay sportsmen. Jim White looks at how public attitudes have changed over the past decade

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Tom Daley came out last year: why don't more sportsmen?

Tom Daley came out last year: why don’t more sportsmen? Photo: Getty

Broadcasting himself via a breathless Youtube video, in December 2013 the Olympic diver Tom Daley revealed that he was in a relationship with a man. What followed was telling.

As his news hit the water, far from a giant wave of indignation, there was barely a ripple of disapproval. Even in this era of Twitter, when trolling has become a national pastime, the most common reaction was to offer the personable young man good wishes for the future.

Tom Daley came out in December 2013 (Rex)

Certainly not for a moment did anyone suggest that his ability to tumble artistically from heights up which few of us venture unless aboard an aircraft would be compromised by his sexuality. He was left alone to pursue his aim to win gold in Rio in 2016 almost entirely free of negativity.

Which is not what happened to John Amaechi when he revealed he is homosexual back in 2002. Raised in Stockport, Amaechi had enjoyed a hugely successful career in the National Basketball Association in the United States; during the late nineties, he was consistently the highest paid Briton involved in team sport anywhere in the world.

But when, immediately after retiring, he disclosed in an interview that he was gay and had been throughout his ball bouncing career and thus became the first professional basketball player ever to admit as much, the ordure unleashed in his direction was close to unrelenting.

John Amaechi on the court (Getty)

“Every day,” he recalls, “I would have someone ringing me up to inform me I was a disgusting human being.”

It was not just his morals that were impugned, either. His very influence as a sportsman was questioned.

The NBA player Tim Hardaway summed up the view held by many that the presence of someone gay in the dressing room would somehow detract from the purpose of the game: “I wouldn’t want him on my team,” said Hardman of Amaechi. “If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that can’t concentrate because he’s there, it’s going to be hard to win.”

Tim Hardaway (AP)

Amaechi and Daley’s experiences were barely a decade apart. Yet they may as well have occurred in different centuries. What happened in between to shift perception, to make the wider attitude to gay sports people more tolerant, more accepting, more, well, indifferent to difference, could be summed up in two words: Gareth and Thomas.

Earlier this year a new play opened at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff called Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage. Written by Robin Soans, directed by Max Stafford Clarke and staged by the National Theatre of Wales, it dramatised the tale of the former Welsh rugby captain and his decision in 2009 to step out of the closet. According to Thomas himself this is “a great Welsh story about sport, politics, secrets, life and learning to be yourself.”

Gareth Thomas paved the way for gay men in sport (Rex)

And, as is revealed in a work written in collaboration with its subject, learning to be himself was no easy process for the man who won 100 international caps for his nation. Thomas had known he was attracted to men from about the age of sixteen. But, convinced that to admit it would compromise progress in the game he loved, he hid his self-doubt behind a carapace of aggression.

He subsumed himself into his work, becoming renowned as one of the hardest, toughest, most brutal players in a hard, tough, brutal sport. Hewn apparently from granite, with the snappy temperament of an underfed bull terrier, no-one messed with Thomas on the pitch.

Off it, though, he lived a double life. Unable to exercise the same sort of repressive control over his instincts as he did in the gym or in the game, he became a regular in the London gay scene. Ashamed of illicit Soho grapples undertaken without the knowledge of Jemma, his unsuspecting wife, Thomas was so weighed down with guilt, in 2007 he considered suicide. Twice.

Gareth Thomas on the pitch (AP)

Eventually, however, after being pursued by a tabloid newspaper threatening exposure, he realised deceit was no longer viable. He made a public proclamation of his sexuality. He knew what had happened to Amaechi. He was braced as if for a spear tackle by a twenty stone prop forward.

“I was doing something nobody had done before,” he says of becominghistory’s first still active rugby player to come out. “And if you’re the first to do something, you have to be prepared to take the sh*t for it.”

And indeed the reaction did astonish him. It was nothing like as negative as he anticipated. True, there were moments – such as a game in Yorkshire when members of the crowd shouted homophobic abuse – but they were rare almost to the point of invisibility. More to the point no-one suggested that this paragon of hardness was in any way inferior as a player simply because he was gay.

This was Gareth Thomas we were talking about. And as everyone in the game knew – occasionally to their cost – you didn’t mess with Gareth Thomas.

James Haskell on the pitch (Getty)

Assuming he would have to skulk away from the game, he instead found himself able to play for two more seasons until chronology inevitably caught up with him and he retired in 2011 at the age of 36. When he did, he could make legitimate claim that he had shifted public opinion.

James Haskell, the unreconstructed heterosexual England international, summed up the game’s feeling on the issue when he appeared semi naked on the front cover of the gay magazine Attitude in 2013.

“I hate the idea of people feeling they can’t just be themselves,” Haskell told the magazine. “And personally I wouldn’t give a sh*t if any of my team mates were gay.”

Olympic boxer Nicola Adams (Getty)

The widespread tolerance came, Thomas admits, as a huge relief to him. Keen to thank those who had been so thoughtful, he cheerfully acquiesced to every interview request, happily talking about his decision making. His autobiography “Proud” became a best seller. His story was optioned by Mickey Rourke who said he wanted to make a movie of his life. Now there is a play.

Meanwhile, on social media, he became a sort of unofficial gay agony uncle, regularly dispensing advice to those struggling with their identity.

“When I started doing Twitter, I realised there were so many people following me who were going through the same thing I was going through,” he says. “A lot of people were asking me questions, even though I was saying: ’Look, I’m not qualified, all I can tell you is what’s happened in my life’.”

According to Richard Lane of the gay rights lobby group Stonewall, the very public nature of Thomas’s coming out is what made him a highly influential figure.

“I have no statistics to back this up, but my sense is that what Thomas did made a huge difference,” he says. “It did really open the door. It did a lot to demonstrate the truth that you can be different, but of equal merit.

Rugby is a macho, manly sport and here was a gay man playing it to the highest level.”

The swimmer Ian Thorpe came out as gay (Getty)

Soon after Thomas came out, a steady trickle of other sports people made their sexuality similarly clear. Daley, the swimmer Ian Thorpe, the cricketer Steven Davies, the Olympic gold medallist boxer Nicola Adams, the footballers Robbie Rogers, Thomas Hitzlsperger, and the England women’s international Casey Stoney.

And in the US, there was the American footballer Michael Sam, who, right at the start of his career, made no secret of his gayness as he signed on for the St Louis Rams during the college draft in 2013.

It was a moment that encouraged President Obama to “congratulate Michael Sam and the Rams for taking an important step forward today in our nation’s journey.”

The gay American football player Michael Sam (Reuters)

For Richard Lane the increase in honesty can only prove beneficial. Not least for the sports people themselves.

“Sport is about getting the best out of people, making sure that every marginal gain is achieved,” he says. “If you are spending a significant part of your energy hiding what you did at the weekend, or who you were with at the cinema, that is energy wasted that should otherwise be focused on the process of winning.

The motto we at Stonewall present is that in the workplace people should be encouraged to be the best they can be. It is a motto that works particularly well in sport.”

One man, however, is not entirely convinced that being gay has ceased to be an issue in sport.

John Amaechi playing ball (EPA)

“Listen, Gareth did a remarkable thing to promote difference,” says John Amaechi of Thomas. “And of course he made it easier for people to follow him. I’m not denying that. But people do a weird extrapolation to suggest that somehow the business has changed. Well it hasn’t. And it won’t. Not with the same dinosaurs in charge.”

These days a practising psychologist, Amaechi suggests that the clearest indication that things have yet to improve institutionally comes in analysis of our national sport. There are 5000 professional footballers in this country and yet not one of them is known to be gay. Statistically that is highly unlikely.

But Amaechi – who claims he knows at least half a dozen current footballers wrestling with the issue – suggests that, whatever Thomas may have found, it is the announcement to the public while still trying to progress their career that puts off some from breaking cover.

Particularly the younger players.

Tom Daley is a gay icon (Getty)

“People have often said to me ’why didn’t you come out earlier?’” he says.

“Well, I wanted to come out since I was 11. But would the world have known who I was had I come out at 11? Not a chance. With all the hurdles I had to vault to become a professional sportsman, I didn’t need that as well. The fact is, you’re more likely to be hit by a meteor than to make it as a Premier League footballer, so why add another reason why you might not make it?”

Amaechi’s point is that Thomas was already well established, performing – like Daley – at the very pinnacle of his sport. His prowess as a player was unimpeachable.

We will know that things have properly and finally changed for the better when footballers starting out in their career, yet to be similarly recognised, can feel comfortable being themselves. Until then, the statistics will continue to suggest football is a gay-free sport.

“Look at Michael Sam,” says Amaechi. “Everyone congratulated each other on how tolerant they were when he was drafted. Obama saw him as this great symbol. He has barely played a game since. He is under much greater scrutiny because of who he is, his performance is much more analysed. And when there is any apparent weakness spotted, everyone can agree they know why.”

Michael Sam has barely played a game since he came out (AP)

Which is largely why Amaechi kept himself to himself throughout his career, with all that secrecy entailed.

“This is the strangeness,” he says. “The athletic environment is one where rules are different: you look at goal celebrations, take that out of the context of football and into a shopping centre, when does a guy do that to another guy in public? In the locker room nudity and frankly homo-erotic activity is the norm.

I found that more disturbing than encouraging, all that arse slapping. I didn’t like to join in, which oddly made me different. I had to keep quiet while they slapped each other’s arses. I’m sure that is going on in Premier League dressing rooms right now. It is frustrating, exhausting and an anti-cohesive way of going about things. I’m convinced the sense of resentment that built up within me was part of reason I wasn’t as good as I should have been.”

This ultimately is the point. Amaechi believes sport would be stronger if it could exercise full and proper tolerance, allowing some of its practitioners to develop to the best of their potential. If coming out were no more noteworthy than signing a new deal to promote a brand of boots, he says, then we would all benefit.

When Tom Daley came out, the response was overwhelmingly positive (Action Images)

Unlike Amaechi, however, Richard Lane of Stonewall is optimistic that such a time is growing ever closer.

“I think we have reached a position where coming out is treated with a shrug rather than outrage. There was no sense that Tom Daley was hammered for it. The response to him was overwhelmingly positive. Commercially, he remained as sought after. I think for a lot of people, the reaction was: you’re gay, so what? Which is exactly what it should be.”

And, if it is like that, if that is to become the established norm, then to Gareth Thomas will be due much of the credit.

Is it hard to be gay in the sporting world? Let us know what you think below.

Tom Daley 'still thinks twice' before discussing his sexuality 18 months after coming out as gay

The Independent The Independent

>HEATHER SAUL Author Biography

The Olympic diver said talking about having a boyfriend still feels ‘weird’

 

Tom Daley has admitted he still “thinks twice” before discussing his sexuality more than a year after he came out as gay.

The Olympic diver’s revelation in a YouTube video that he was dating a man in July 2013 sparked a media frenzy, with Daley suddenly propelled to the front pages of tabloids across the UK.

Subsequent news that his partner was Dustin Lance Black – the US script writer behind the Oscar-winning Harvey Milk biopicMilk – only served to intensify the furore surrounding his sexuality.

Daley said he still hesitates before talking about being gay eighteen months after coming out, telling Newsbeat it still feels “weird” .

“As the months have gone on I’ve felt more and more comfortable saying it and give me another year and I’ll probably feel at my most comfortable but it’s still weird,” he said.

Daley, who is now an ambassador for the LGBT helpline Switchboard, is preparing to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio next year. The 21 year-old said he has not experienced homophobia, despite many stories of discrimination emerging from various sports.

“I don’t think there should be any reason for there to be any discrimination or homophobia or anything like that in sport because sport is the one place where you’re judged on performance and nothing else,” he added.

“More and more, especially in diving, that’s the only sport I really have experience in, there’s no homophobia whatsoever.”

 

Screenwriter Believes Marriage Equality Possible In Ireland

Tom Daley, Boyfriend Dustin Lance Black Out In Dublin; Screenwriter Believes Marriage Equality Possible In Ireland

Reprinted from kpopstarzBy Chill Harrison | March 07, 2015 07:30 PM

Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley

(Photo : Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images Entertainment)

Dustin Lance Black was honored with the “honorary life membership” by the UCD Law Society and he brought along boyfriend Tom Daley with him for the occasion. Meanwhile, the screenwriter is optimistic that Ireland will eventually go along with same-sex marriage.

 According to Entertainment.ie, Dustin Lance Black also spoke about his advocacy on the rights of the LGBT and the importance of storytelling at the University College Dublin.

“Black certainly left his mark on those in attendance if the audience’s reaction is anything to go by,” it said.

Meanwhile, Speaking to Newstalk, the Irish news radio, Dustin Lance Black believes that same-sex marriage would be accepted in Catholic Ireland.

“I believe that marriage equality will be the law of the land in Ireland by the end of May and I think it’s a beautiful thing. It says something really wonderful about the Irish people,” said Dustin Lance Black.

More than people of the same sexual orientation getting married, fostering the rights of minority groups is the very essence of democracy.

“I think it’s the cornerstone of a democracy to protect the minority from the tyranny of a majority,” Dustin Lance Black said.

But Tom Daley’s boyfriend understands that it’s not going to be easy based on his own experience.

“My journey with my Mom, my family… it wasn’t all good all the time. My Mom didn’t understand right away. There was a period there of a lot of heartbreak and certainly with a lot of my extended family,” he said.

“Keep the avenues of communication open, keep talking about it because it’s about misinformation, that’s where homophobia comes from,” Dustin Lance Black added.

Dustin Lance Black’s boyfriend Tom Daley is actually considered as one of UK’s most influentialgay people.

According to Plymouth Herald, Dustin Lance Black’s boyfriend Tom Daley is a new entry at the 15th place on the Rainbow List by The Independent.

Number one on the list is Labour Party activist and former EastEnders actor Michael Cashman,” the publication said. “The top of the list also features Newsnight presenter Evan Davies, Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins and musician Sam Smith.”

Coming out online as a gay teen: Good or bad?

For those who missed this interesting tit-bit, I reprint it from the BBC Newbeat Site (Coming out…)

 

Tom Daley with his boyfriend Dustin Lance Black
Tom Daley with his boyfriend Dustin Lance Black

In 2013, Tom Daley used the internet to come out publicly, posting a video on YouTube.

At the time he said: “My life changed massively when I met someone, and they make me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great. That someone is a guy.”

For someone in the media spotlight, it was a bold move to do it so publicly.

But what’s it like for other gay teenagers wanting to come out? Does the internet make it easier?

As a guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, singer Tracey Thorn wanted to find out whether that was the case.

She’d noticed a lack of positive stories about young people and the internet so got author and presenter Damian Barr to sit down with several gay teenagers to find out how the internet helped them, or not.

Here are Maddie and Tom’s stories.

Gay pride flag

Maddie, 16

“I think the first person I told physically was a teacher. She wasn’t gay. She was just a nice person and I think I was 13.

Before that I talked to quite a lot of people online, who gave me the courage to come out at school.

I actually met my ‘best internet friend’ over a fan-fiction website. We wrote about Glee! I met my other ‘best internet friend’ through Tumblr.

I told her that I really liked her blog and she became one of my main support systems. We’ve actually met twice in real life which was pretty surreal.

The internet was the only thing I had prior to coming out. I wasn’t specifically looking for gay people, they just seemed to be there.

I came out on Facebook. I put a post saying ‘There are rumours I’m a lesbian and I’m not going to deny that’ and I got loads of good responses on the Facebook status

But I also had an ask.fm account attached to my Facebook and had hundreds of messages telling me to kill myself.

I think it was just a few people sending a lot of messages so it was really difficult. I should be allowed to have internet access without the fear of abuse.”

Tom, 16

“I recently told my teacher and cried in front of her. I was really embarrassed and did not know how she’d react but I felt much stronger and more powerful as a result. I thought that someone does accept me!

I don’t think I came out online but the internet helped me find the resources to come out and to be sure I am interested in men only because I was really confused about whether that was my sexual orientation.

I realised that’s what I like and it won’t change. The internet helped me to realise that’s my reality.

I also watched gay Youtubers talk about how they know. I think I watched every single gay title about coming out. It made me feel that I’m not alone and there is somewhere I belong.

People also asked me on Facebook ‘are you gay?’. I was really hurt because I believed being gay was a curse. It’s been hurtful but I’m really happy to be over it.”

Brave Tom Daley

On Dec 8 Donald MacLeod, a columnist in the Sunday Post,  made comment about Tom Daley and his decision to come out – and how brave he had been.

It was nice of him to congratulate Tom, but his other comments were to a degree not supportive. Tom, like many other young people in today’ society, has had to find his own route through the maze of sexual hangups that our society places in front of us. It shouldn’t be a shock, it shouldn’t even need commented on, but that fact that it has been shows how far society still needs to go to accept LGBT people

 

Well Done Tome

Well done Tom –

.