The 24-year-old diver revealed in December 2013 he was in a relationship with another man and his “biggest concern” at the time was a potential negative impact it could have had on his sport. He admitted: “My biggest concern when I came out was: what would the parents of young divers think? Would they discourage their kids from diving because a high-profile athlete like me was gay? I was so worried.” Shortly after coming out, Tom opted out of competing in Russia because he thought it would be “risky and unsafe” and he’s always regretted his decision.
Speaking to ShortList’s first-ever Pride issue, he said: “I skipped a competition in Russia in 2014. It was in the wake of my coming out. I thought it was too risky and unsafe. Then, when everyone got back, I really kicked myself for not going. I’d let other people rule by fear, and it weighed really heavily on me.”And even now, Tom – who, along with husband Dustin Lance Black, welcomed son Robert into the world last week via a surrogate – admitted it can still be “scary” competing in certain parts of the world. He said: “It can be scary going to countries that aren’t accepting of LGBTQ+ people. I’ve competed in the Middle East, Russia, and parts of the Commonwealth, where being gay is punishable. “I feel extremely lucky being able to compete as I am without worrying about ramifications.”
But the sportsman refuses to hide away his sexuality because he wants to set a good example. He explained: “Small actions have a huge impact. I’m conscious of my platform, so at the World Diving Series in Russia this year I wore a rainbow pin with ‘Pride’ on it. I wanted people to see it and know I was proud, and that they could feel proud, too.” However, Tom’s husband wasn’t able to cheer him on at the event because the screenwriter-and-director is “not allowed” into Russia. He explained: “My husband is blacklisted from Russia. He did a big protest there with a massive rainbow flag, and after he screened his film ‘Milk’ he started getting threats and attacks. So he’s not allowed back.” The full interview with Tom appears in this week’s Pride issue of ShortList, out Thursday 5th July 2018. Visit www.ShortList.com/Pride for more information.