For years, male celebrities have played with sexual ambivalence in order to capitalize on both the straight female and gay male markets. Singer Ricky Martin perfected the art by not “coming out” one way or the other until later in his career (so he wouldn’t alienate either demographic and could benefit from the millions that both gay males and straight females funneled into his records and concerts).
And now, British diver Tom Daley seems to be playing the ambivalence card by keeping alive rumors about both his sexuality and dating life. During the London 2012 Olympics, a malicious Twitter troll was reprimanded by authorities for tweeting that Daley had disappointed his recently deceased dad by almost not qualifying for the finals. The troll tagged the tweet with the hashtag #teamHIV – in a clear from of online hate speech.
Since then, chatter about Daley’s sexuality and girlfriend(s) – or lack thereof – has been as prevalent and pervasive as the athlete’s Olympic achievements. The Speedo-clad lad made the rounds from book signings to television interviews, where hysterical scores of screaming fans begged for their “Daley fix” – contributing to make the washboard abs teenager the new sex symbol desired by all, male and female, in all of the United Kingdom and beyond.
Daley’s mom, Debbie, set the tone herself right after the Games by declaring her son “never had a proper girlfriend” in a clear wink to an increasingly powerful global gay community with lots of disposable income. At the same time, tabloids and blogs on both sides of the pond have kept alive rumors about the diver’s Twitter exchanges with his many (potential?) girlfriends – in order to imply to the legions of female teenagers, who have made Daley Britain’s own Justin Bieber, that is into girls after all (just not ready to commit for now).
And now, the diver himself seems keen to keep the suspense by denying that Kassidy Cook, the fellow athlete with whom the diver exchanged Twitter messages with during the Games, and even held hands on a very publicized date in London, is indeed his girlfriend.
According to Sugar Scape, the diver, who channeled Clark Kent for an interview with Heat magazine, was asked about the apparently heating relationship between he and Cook. To which Daley responded, "We're just really good friends” – effectively friend-zoning lovely Cook to worldwide fans’ delight. Stay tuned.