CHARLES GRAHAM - Small steps toward total acceptance

ONLY when folk like Tom Daley no longer feel the need to “out” themselves, can homosexuality be regarded as completely accepted by this country.

I find that a difficult moment to envisage any time soon given some religions’ continuing views on the subject; and while gay rights have come a long way in just a few decades there are centuries of tradition and prejudices to overturn.

Mind you, our diving star wouldn’t dare to admit to his sexual inclinations had he happened to be living in Russia, Nigeria or Iran (apparently the last of these nations has no gay citizens at all).

Which is itself a credit to our own society’s relative tolerances.

Changing attitudes and laws have led to an increasing number of gay, lesbian and transgender folk feeling assured enough to come out.

And the sheer number of them saddens me inasmuch that it shows there must have been just as large a percentage of people from countless previous generations who had to keep their true selves under wraps and, often, repressed, for their entire lives.

I don’t think anyone should feel obliged to publicise their sexuality if they don’t want to. But I can see a value in folk (particularly high-profile ones) to do so because it helps to normalise it and, so I am told, is a great relief to them once they have got it off their chest and quelled the rumours.

It’s unfortunate that so few top flight footballers and rugby players have felt willing or able to come out, which shows there is a way to go yet.

But while Tom Daley might this week have broken a few female admirers’ hearts (while admitting he still fancies girls too), he has done his bit and should now be allowed to get on with his life and sparkling career.