Outing; I’m of two, well, maybe three, minds about it …
If you’re an anti-LGBT public figure or politician who makes a living denying The Gays equality while trolling bathrooms or internet sites or airport bathrooms looking for a same-sex hook-up, then I’m all for the outing; I’m looking at you Larry Craig.
If you’re a closeted public figure who has photos of yourself kissing and fondling your same-sex partner, but continue to play that tired “My life is private” line, then I’m kinda okay with the outing; I’m looking at you Queen Latifah, because I wonder how many closeted girls, especially young Black girls, you might help to come to love themselves and accept themselves and live out loud and open if you lead the way?
If you’re a public figure living a private life and don’t want to come out for reasons of your own, well, I say you should come out, or be outed; coming out is a deeply personal process that’s different for all of us, and no one should take that chance away from you; I’m looking at you Colton Haynes, whose coming out was used as sport by some, sadly, in the gay community.
But what about closeted athletes at the Olympics? What about outing athletes from different countries across the globe, some countries where these athletes cannot live openly for fear of persecution, prosecution, and even death? Yeah, that kind of outing is reprehensible and stupid and thoughtless, and it’s that kind of outing that Nico Hines, and The Daily Beast, tried to pull last week in Rio.
Hines, a straight journalist, had been covering the Rio games for the Daily Beast and he, and obviously his editors, thought it might be high-larious to see if they could spot, and out, gay athletes at the games.
And Nico Hines went so far as to create a fake profile on Grindr, a gay social app — for meeting gay people and, yes, even hooking up with other gay men for sex — to see how many athletes, just the gay ones mind you, were cruising for sex between events.
Himes says he was shocked, shocked he says, to find that Rio de Janeiro has become “a hotbed of partying athletes, hookups, and sex, sex, sex.” Well, just the gay sex was what Nico wanted to cover; and he did. And while he never named any athletes on the site, or any athletes that responded to his fake profile, he shared other information about them, like the sports they played and the countries they were from:
“Athlete profiles on the various apps during my short exploration included a Brazilian track star, an Italian volleyball player, a South American record-holder in the pool, a sailor from New Zealand, a British diver, and a handball player from a notoriously homophobic country.”
A handball player from a “notoriously homophobic country”? As in a country that might arrest this athlete, jail this athlete, kill this athlete? Because that could happen; I imagine once Hines described the athletes and told where they were from and what their sport was, it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out who they were, or might be. A “South American record-holder in the pool” might be pretty easy to find.
So, how does this kind of reporting become “journalism” when it reeks more of a really bad Jacqueline Susann novel from the 70s? Also, why just the gay athletes? Why not troll Tinder and see how many straight athletes were hooking up for “sex, sex, sex”?
Oh, because Nico Hine, while straight and married, perhaps has a prurient fascination with the world of gay sex and the stereotype that all gay men are out to f**k or get f**ked. It’s ridiculous and stupid and careless and dangerous to equate his story with journalism of any kind.
Once again, this isn’t about hookups and gay men and sex; it about putting closeted gay men who live in countries where simply being themselves is a crime, in danger, and if even one athlete is harmed, or worse, by having their story told — albeit without ever mentioning them by name — then I would like to see Nico Hines and The Daily Beast held accountable.
Hines entrapped these gay men by faking a profile, by posing as a gay man interested in hooking up for sex, just to out them in a story. And now, both he and The Daily Beast are on the offensive … for being offensive.
After the story was published and the outrage, and backlash, began, Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief John Avlon reworked Hines’ piece, allegedly removing any identifying information, but left the story online and added a ‘fauxpology’:
“We have made some editorial changes to the article, responding to readers' concerns, and are again sorry for any upset the original version of this piece inspired."
Of course, Nico Hines is also trying to justify his little article — originally titled, "I Got Three Grindr Dates in an Hour in the Olympic Village" — by saying he never lied:
"For the record, I didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t — unless you count being on Grindr in the first place — since I’m straight, with a wife and child. I used my own picture … and confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who I was."
Huh; so Nico didn’t lie? He posted his picture to Grindr and said he was a gay man looking for action in Rio and that right there, the very beginning of this mess, is an outright lie.
Grindr is an app for men who wish to hook-up with other men; that’s what Grindr is. So, to be on that app when you aren’t looking for a hook-up with another man is absolutely a lie; it’s the textbook definition of a lie.
Again, if one gay athlete is harmed, jailed, persecuted, prosecuted in any way, then lay the blame at the feet of The Daily Beast and Nico Hines.
As one athlete, openly gay Tongan Olympic swimmer, Amini Fonua, did via Twitter:
“As an out gay athlete from a country that is still very homophobic, @thedailybeast ought to be ashamed.
“Imagine the one space you can feel safe, the one space you’re able to be yourself, ruined by a straight person who thinks it’s all a joke?
“No straight person will ever know the pain of revealing your truth, to take that away is just… I can’t. It literally brings me to tears.
“It is still illegal to be gay in Tonga, and while I’m strong enough to be me in front of the world, not everybody else is. Respect that.”
And then Amini Fonua posted this picture for Nico Hines ....
... with the following message:
“Yo @nicohines & @thedailybeast — if what you were looking for on Grindr was hot ass (and I don’t see any other reason why you’d be on there) here you have mine in all its proud glory … Now kiss it and f**k off.”
And maybe they did; shortly thereafter The Daily Beast completely removed Nico Hines’ piece:
“Today, The Daily Beast took an unprecedented but necessary step: We are removing an article from our site. [We do] not do this lightly. As shared in our editor’s note earlier today, we initially thought swift removal of any identifying characteristics and better clarification of our intent was the adequate way to address this. Our initial reaction was that the entire removal of the piece was not necessary. We were wrong. We’re sorry. And we apologize to the athletes who may have been inadvertently compromised by our story.
Today we did not uphold a deep set of The Daily Beast’s values. These values — which include standing up to bullies and bigots, and specifically being a proudly, steadfastly supportive voice for LGBT people all over the world — are core to our commitment to journalism and to our commitment to serving our readers … The article was not intended to do harm or degrade members of the LGBT community, but intent doesn’t matter, impact does.
“Our hope is that removing an article that is in conflict with both our values and what we aspire to as journalists will demonstrate how seriously we take our error. We were wrong. We will do better.”
Here’s the part that I don’t quite get; you call yourselves supporters of the LGBT community, you call yourselves allies to our fight, but how did no one, no one, stand up and say, when this story was being bandied about as an idea, that it was all kinds of wrong? Did no one at The Daily Beast even take a moment repeat the idea out loud so you could physically hear how awful it sounded?
I hope Nice Hines and the Daily Beast have learned a lesson, because being gay is not a joke, not something to be made fun of on a global scale where we can be targeted, marginalized, criminalized and murdered for our sexual orientation. Our lives are not meant for fluff pieces by the likes of Nico Hines or The Daily Beast use to score higher readership numbers.
I wish every gay person could come out, but I know that’s impossible around the world and in some places, and some families, here at home. But I don’t want anyone to be put in danger by having some “reporter” tell some story about them. And so I, for one, will probably be looking at other websites for news from now on … apology or not.