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BGSU hosts a conversation on facing fear with Olympian Tom Daley

BGSU hosts a conversation on facing fear with Olympian Tom Daley
BGSU hosts a conversation on facing fear with Olympian Tom Daley

Last Thursday, Nov. 10, several BGSU organizations hosted an interactive conversation with Olympic diver and LGBTQ+ activist Tom Daley in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.  

BGSU professor Vikki Krane welcomed Daley and BGSU Dean of Graduate and Professional Programs and sport psychologist Jennifer Waldron on behalf of the hosting organizations. Krane said Waldron was “uniquely positioned to be the [best] person on campus to do this conversation” with Daley, as Waldron has taught sport psychology and conducted research on queerness in sports. 

Waldron began by asking Daley how he dedicated himself to diving. The Olympic Gold Medalist said he loves an adrenaline rush, which he can satisfy by diving off of platforms 32 feet above the water. 

“There’s something about diving that I just found so captivating,” Daley said. “I’m a little bit of an adrenaline seeker. I love doing things that kind of scare me a little bit, whether that be rollercoasters, theme parks, or horror movies. Anything that’s, like, you shouldn’t like it but you do.” 

The adrenaline, however, has a tricky consequence. Fear, Daley said, is something that divers battle every time they face a dive. 

“Every single time I go up onto a 10-meter platform, I’m terrified,” Daley said. “You’d think you would get used to it, but every time I’ve gotten used to standing on the edge of a 10-meter platform, something goes wrong.” 

Daley spoke extensively on his mastery over fear before the conversation pivoted to his fear of failure. 

In a career colored with achievement, the Olympian also suffered lows that challenged his entire identity. After winning bronze in the 2012 London Olympics, Daley went back to life outside of the sport. 

“You’ve worked so hard for that moment, and then it comes and then it goes, then I was back finishing my last year of high school. It was really weird to just go back to normal so it was very difficult to not only get over that…but then I was also like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m not straight, how am I going to deal with this?’” Daley said. “It was so difficult to figure out who I was without being outed.”

In 2013, Daley published a YouTube video addressing speculation from the media on his sexuality. He had met his now-husband Dustin “Lance” Black and knew he had to act on his own accord if he wanted to live openly. 

His coming out garnered a mix of reactions from Daley’s fans and family. Yet, he became a role model overnight and received an outpouring of support from the public. Since then, Daley has become a full-fledged activist for LGBTQ+ rights. 

In recent years, Daley has worked to promote inclusion in the Olympics, especially amongst countries that punish homosexuality with consequences. When he heard about the possibility of being stoned for being gay in Pakistan, Daley initially wanted Pakistan banned from hosting the games.

“I [didn’t] think that any country who had an anti-LGBTQ law should have the privilege of hosting a major sporting national competition,” Daley said. “[Pakistani activists said] that this would put a target on queer people in that country… sometimes, being able to open doors within countries [and instill] a set of values within an organization doesn’t say you can’t [participate], but you can, if you follow these things.”    

The conversation was sponsored by the College of Education and Human Development, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Graduate College, Athletics Department and other campus organizations. Daley posts regular updates on his family, diving, fashion and activism on his Instagram. 

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