Tom Daley says that his successful 21-year diving career has taken him to a place where he can “start to fight for other people”.
The 28-year-old Olympian said that speaking up for LGBT+ rights had been “really scary” but that he had an “obligation and responsibility” to use his platform.
Daley appeared at the 2022 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on Thursday, after condemning ongoing homophobia across many Commonwealth nations.
Speaking to The Big Issue about his own success at previous Games, he said: “It dawned on me that I don’t have to worry about any of the ramifications of that.
“I thought about how fortunate I am. Because in over half the Commonwealth countries that are competing, it is illegal to be queer.”
He continued: “Sport has a real power for change. I guess 21 years of diving has got me to a place where I can start to fight for other people.
“I am not going to lie, it is a really scary thing. But there are certain people that cannot stand up for themselves or do not have the platform to stand up for themselves.
“I felt like it was my obligation and responsibility to use my platform and my voice to be able to lift up the voices of the people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get into the room.”
After researching ways in which he could campaign against homophobia within the Commonwealth, the athlete travelled across the world, speaking to athletes and advocates from Pakistan, Jamaica, Nigeria, Tonga, Singapore, and asking their opinion on what more could be done.
He said that for many in the Commonwealth, seeing the Pride flag, which was on display by many nations and athletes at Thursday’s opening ceremony, was a sign of “hope and safety”.
Daley said he would also like to approach organisations including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Fifa to engage in similar conversations around tackling homophobia within sport.
“I feel like I’m going to look back at this as one of the most important years of my life – and the one when I really started to be active in the movement,” he said.
The full interview can be read in the current edition of The Big Issue Magazine.