Diving champion Tom Daley has revealed how he was subjected to homophobic bullying in his school days.
In an interview with The Times, Daley said he was labelled “gay” long before he had even considered his sexuality.
“I always thought people called me gay just because that’s what you do,” he said. “I don’t think it was linked to my sexuality. It happens all the time to everyone at school.
“If someone doesn’t give you a bit of their chocolate bar, you say, ‘Oh, don’t be gay.’ It’s not used to attack you.
“It’s the same with people on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. It doesn’t really bother me. I’m quite thick-skinned.”
Daley, now 22, came out as gay in 2014 and is engaged to Hollywood screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.
Until he met Black, he had never considered that he was gay.
“No one had asked me what I was,” he said. “And I hadn’t really analysed it. I thought everyone looked at other guys and thought, ‘Oh, he’s all right.’ I thought I was normal.
“It wasn’t until I met Lance that I started understanding it.
“I didn’t know that I was different. I just assumed everyone thought like me, that it didn’t matter if it was a boy or a girl. I thought everyone had those thoughts in their heads growing up.”
Daley explained how he had broken the news to his mother, Debbie.
“My mum had no idea. It was just a random conversation. We were having a barbecue at my house, Lance was making burgers and I was in the kitchen,”he said.
“I said to Mum, ‘What do you think of Lance?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, he’s great. He makes great burgers.’”
So I told her I was in a relationship with him.
“She said, ‘Like a gay relationship?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And she said, ‘Oh … all right.’
“She had no idea, despite the fact I’d brought this guy home for the weekend. I was lucky. It was so easy, and you hear some horror stories.”
Daley, who is now in training ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, also revealed how he almost quit the sport after winning a bronze medal at the London Games.
“After 2012 I had a rough time getting back into training. I lost motivation. I thought I might not want to do diving any more, not go to another Olympics,” he said.
“I wanted to go out and be a normal teenager.”
Daley said that Black is the reason he is still diving.
“In March 2013 I was at my all-time low and didn’t want to do it any more. Then I met him and thought, ‘This guy won’t want to be with me unless I’m successful at what I do.’
“I felt happy all of a sudden. Nothing seemed confusing any more. He is a massive, massive support for me.”