Diver Tom Daley has told how it was “love at first sight” when he met the man who now shares his life.
The Olympic medal-winning star, who revealed the relationship for the first time this week, also explained that keeping his sexuality under wraps had felt like “a dirty little secret”.
In an interview with ITV’s Jonathan Ross Show to be screened on Saturday, he explained how he had made the first move, even though he was not sure if his now-partner was even gay – and it was his first experience of love.
Daley, 19, announced he was in a relationship with a “a guy” by posting a message on YouTube on Monday. Although he has not confirmed the identity, he is said to be dating screenwriter and activist Dustin Lance Black, who is aged 39.
Speaking for the first time since since he went public, Daley told Ross: “It really was love at first sight, I’d never felt like anything like it before. We were at a party and I hadn’t even spoken to him all night.
“I didn’t know what to do or if he was gay at first. I made the first move, I typed ’call me’ in his notes with a smiley face on this phone and the next day he texted.
“He makes me feel safe and happy, right now I couldn’t be happier.
“I’d never felt the feeling of love, it happened so quickly, I was completely overwhelmed by it to the point I can’t get him out of my head all the time. I’ve never had it before where I love someone and they love me just as much.
Daley – who was a mentor on ITV celebrity diving show Splash! earlier this year - said his new partner helped him rekindle his interest in training competitively once again.
“He saved me from not wanting to dive anymore. After the Olympics I was down in the dumps, as it’s such a hard way to get back into everything, but he gave me the extra motivation and made me work harder and that is exactly what I need.”
Daley said it was a tough decision to speak out about his private life, but he feels liberated by doing so and has been encouraged by the support he has received.
“It was a terrifying decision to make, I didn’t know what the reaction was going to be like, I didn’t know how it was going to go but I felt I needed to say something. I wanted to say something in my own words and from the heart, I didn’t know what else to do,” he said.
“Right now I couldn’t be happier, the support and reaction has been amazing, everyone has been so supportive and I just have to thank them.
“People ask why I had a girlfriend last year, well, it’s because I had a girlfriend last year. It wasn’t until spring this year that it came upon me, I didn’t expect this, it happened and everything clicked and felt right.”
In the programme to be screened at 10.45pm on Saturday, he explained: “It felt like a dirty little secret, it felt like I had chains wrapped around me, I couldn’t be who I was, I felt alone and trapped.
“Just telling one person made me feel so much better, just that one person took a weight off my shoulder. I told Sophie my best friend first as I knew she’d be really accepting of it. She’s been so supportive and there for me.
“Now that everyone knows, I have nothing to hide, those chains that I felt wrapped around me are gone and I can carry on with my life as normal and be happy.
Daley advised other people to confide in someone if they were unsure about their sexuality, and not feel alone he had done.
“I felt like there was something wrong with me, I didn’t know other people out there felt that way, I felt so alone, so locked away and couldn’t say anything.”
He encouraged others by saying: “Tell one person. Tell your story, how you feel.
“I’ve had people send some lovely Twitter messages with people telling me they’ve since come out to their parents, that they’ve had some hope, it shouldn’t matter who I’m dating in this day and age. Be who you want to be.”
The bronze medallist said his family had been concerned about the public reaction.
“My family will always want to look out for me and not want me to get hurt but they were worried what the reaction would be like in case people would be horrible to me in the streets,” Daley said.
“Now that it’s all happened they couldn’t be happier, the support of the public has been an added bonus, it makes me smile to think about it – my life at the moment is perfect.”
Daley told Ross he did not want to put a label on his sexuality.
“Everything is all pretty new so I don’t see any point in putting a label on it – gay, bi, straight, any of those kind of labels. All that I feel happy about at the moment is that I’m dating a guy and couldn’t be happier, it shouldn’t matter who I’m dating and I hope people can be happy for me.”
Looking ahead in his diving career, he said: “I’m training full time now and it’s always tough the first year after the Olympics. I’m working hard and want to be at the Commonwealth Games in the best shape I possibility can.
“My dream is to get an Olympic gold medal and I hope Rio 2016 will be my chance to do that. London 2012 was an amazing experience and so was Beijing but as a diver you normally peak between 22-24 and I’ll be 22 in Rio.”
He will return to Splash! in the New Year, which will feature Ross’s broadcaster brother Paul among the contestants.
He said: “He’s doing really well, he’s working on a little something special.”
:: The Jonathan Ross Show is screened at 10.45pm on Saturday on ITV.