Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black: ‘It’s a window into our lives and that’s what changes perceptions’
Olympic diver Tom Daley and his screenwriter husband Dustin Lance Black used the launch of a new Pampers nappy to introduce their son to the world
Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black: “The fact that Pampers are including us gives people the opportunity to meet a same-sex family and, honestly, the challenges are the same.”
It’s a sign of the times we live in when a global nappy brand decides to launch a new product with a highly successful gay sports star who has recently become a father.
But 24-year-old Tom Daley – Olympic world champion diver from Plymouth, England – and his 44-year-old screenwriter husband, Dustin Lance Black from California, seem happy to embrace the opportunity. They even bring along their six-week old baby boy, Robert Ray Black-Daley, to the press interviews in advance of the product’s official launch.
“The fact that Pampers [which was launching a new type of nappy made from cotton, cellulose and other materials derived from sugar cane] are including us gives people the opportunity to meet a same-sex family and, honestly, the challenges are the same. It’s a window into our lives and that’s what changes perceptions,” says Black, who is best known as the screenwriter for the 2009 Gus Van Sant film Milk, in which Sean Penn played gay-rights icon Harvey Milk.
Daley is one of the world’s poster-boy sports stars. His first big achievement was when, at age 13, he won the European 10m platform gold. He reached the Olympic final at the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics, when he finished seventh, becoming Britain’s second youngest male Olympian of all time. He has since won two Olympic bronze medals for diving.
Daley says their son has brought so much love and joy to their family. “Lance and I always wanted to have a family. When we first started dating over five years ago, we started talking about names. We were planning this baby over two-and-a half-years ago.”
Before Robert was born, Daley spoke about his expectations. “It’s been such a crazy experience. It changes your outlook on life. Even on a plane. I’m never scared of flying – and as soon as there was any turbulence I was like, ‘oh my God’, because there’s more than my life I have to care about now.”
‘It changes your perspective’
Like most parents-to-be, Daley also admitted to being a bit nervous. “It changes your perspective on absolutely everything. It’s all filled with excitement, getting everything ready, feeling like you don’t really know what’s going to happen. The fear of what might happen and the excitement. There are so many emotions that come with being an expectant father.”
Robert Ray Black-Daley was born on June 27th, 2018, to a surrogate mother in the United States. The couple had earlier decided to fertilise half the donated eggs each so that they wouldn’t know which of them was the biological dad. “We decided to do the process in the United States where there is [established] medical law surrounding surrogacy,” says Black.
He explains how the health of the surrogate and the emotional and physical safety of everyone involved is taken into consideration in this process. “When you do this in the United States, everyone has to be screened medically and psychologically and [talk] about the relationship they’d like to have,” explains Black.
Both men were present at the birth of their son. “Our surrogate has asked for privacy around the birth itself, but there is no shame around this process. Anything questions that are asked [by Robert] in the future will be answered,” says Black.
Back in their London home, Daley and Black had a “sip&see” cocktail party to celebrate their son’s birth. “It was a come and see him, but don’t touch,” says Daley, who has taken time out of his training for the first 10 weeks of his son’s life. Baby Robert is named after Daley’s father, Robert, who died of a brain tumour at the age of 40, when Tom was just 17.
So far, they both seem to be taking new parenthood in their stride – without calling on the help of nannies or au-pairs. “We’ve been very lucky with him. He seems happy. Right now, we trade off evenings, but even watching him sleep brings us such joy and love. We are so proud to be parents,” says Daley. “It’s more of a competition who gets to feed him,” adds Black.
So, have they worked out who will be minding the baby, once work routines resume? “Lance works from home during the day,” says Daley. And Black quips, “He’s the ideal writing partner. He’s very attentive – all inspiration and no critique.”