By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)
The 27-year-old Olympic heart throb, who’s accomplishments include several Olympic and world championship medals, was recently granted a spot on the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) as part of the Queen’s New Year Honor List. This award comes for his contributions as a world-renowned diver in contributing to British culture, but Daley himself is using that platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion.
“I’m extremely proud to be honored with an OBE,” Tom Daley said in a recent interview with the BBC Breakfast show. “Now, being an OBE, I feel it’s almost like a responsibility to make the whole Commonwealth a better place for LGBT+ people, for women, for people of color, to make it a more inclusive and accepting environment.”
“With accepting this OBE it’s now my responsibility to help create change and help create this environment where everybody can be anything that they want, no matter where they came from,” he continued.
Tom Daley has long been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights since he came out on December 2nd, 2013. Most recently, he won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer and used that platform to call for an Olympic ban on countries that criminalized same sex relations. At that same Olympics, he won many hearts over after he was seen to be knitting in between competitions to help him relax from the pressures of competition.
“These past Olympic Games, there were more out LGBT athletes than any of the previous Olympics combined, which is a great step forward,” Daley said in a speech while accepting the Sports Award at the 2021 Attitude Awards. “Yet there are still 10 countries that punish being gay with death, that were allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.”
Continuing his interview with BBC Breakast, Daley highlighted how accepting an OBE only helps to further elevate his voice.
“Accepting an OBE is one thing, but accepting it and doing something with it,” Daley concluded to BBC Breakfast about what he hopes being recognized with this honor helps him do. “Taking it from just being an OBE, to being something where I can help people, no matter where they’re born or where they come from, that they can feel like they can be whatever they want to be. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. At the end of the day, I think that it’s really important to be able to lift up all of the people that feel like they’re outsiders, that feel like they don’t fit in, and feel like they have been less than for so many years, to support them in being whatever they want to be and now as an OBE, to be able to lift up their voices.”