Tom Daley says he felt “too unsafe” to compete in Russia after coming out

Craig Benson / ShortList

Tom Daley has admitted he skipped a competition in Russia through fear of homophobia.

The medal-winning British Olympic diver came out in a YouTube video at the end of 2013, and while the UK has welcomed him as as an openly LGBTQ sporting hero, the prospect of competing in certain countries has posed a dilemma for Tom.

“I skipped a competition in Russia in 2014,” he admitted in a new interview with ShortList to celebrate Pride.

“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.”

While he may have since visited the notoriously anti-gay country when he competed at the World Diving Series earlier this year, Tom said he still gets nervous about going to places that have laws against the community.

“It can be scary going to countries that aren’t accepting of LGBTQ people,” he continued.

“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.”

That’s not the only Russia-related revelation made by Tom in the interview, as he also spoke about the fact that his husband, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, is banned from the country after protesting for LGBTQ rights.

“My husband is blacklisted from Russia,” Tom explained.

“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.”

Tom recently celebrated the birth of his and Dustin’s son, who they’ve named Robert after Tom’s father who died of cancer in 2011.

The full interview with Tom appears in this week’s Pride issue of ShortList, out Thursday 5 July 2018.

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