Nico Hines’ article is an example of unfettered ignorance and journalistic exploitation.
The working title for this piece was “WHAT THE EVER LIVING F**K” but I realised this may be a bit unnecessarily aggressive and not informative. So let Nico Hines serve as an example for everyone.
If you ever needed some pointers as to what looks like microaggressive homophobia, then the Rio Olympics has shown it with this delightful headline from the Daily Mail and this bizarre invasion of privacy from the Daily Beast.
Except this latter story wasn’t actually just microaggressive, it threatened the livelihood of numerous closeted Olympian athletes.
Anyone who is LGBT+ in some way will have a story to tell about the fear they had of being outed at school, or to close friends or family. That fear stems from the potential homophobic abuse and for some (including myself), simply having control over that personal disclosure.
I hadn’t read the article as it was originally published, so I didn’t see the content that was initially so dangerous to the sportsmen, but I did read the amended version. What really struck me about the insensitivity of the piece was the line (I’m paraphrasing): “Unsurprisingly, I had more success on Grindr.”
Consider that Nico Hines also made use of Tinder and Jack’d, the juxtaposition of the apps makes an unsettling and age-old comment on the promiscuity of queer men, one that is often used by queer men themselves to bash other queer men with.
So many questions came up from this. How did Nico Hines think this was a good idea/who gave him the assignment? How was no consideration given to the subjects of this experiment? How did his editors give him the green light? It boggles the mind that nobody thought in the discussion room (or even over an e-mail) that including such heavily specific content would be unethical, a major breach of privacy.
And surely Nico and the Daily Beast would be able to recognise from their own experiences (presumably) with similar dating apps that anyone who is going to any length to hide their identity on their profiles is someone who, for whatever reason, does not want to be found easily.
What perhaps is a little more insulting is the fact that the editors did not immediately retract the article, they just cut out the specifics while still leaving the grimy foundation behind the piece. The motive behind the article reminded me of something one of my friends frequently says about their discomfort towards Pride:
LGBT+ people aren’t a zoo. Pride events and gay club nights aren’t a safari for straight and cisgender to take pictures of and objectify LGBT+ people, turned into a curiosity or treated like a fashion accessory. If it sounds like I’m alluding to the adage of straight women wanting to have a gay man best friend to go shopping with and talk about boys, then you’d be correct, it absolutely falls into that camp.
Nico Hines has since been condemned by the International Olympic Committee and is reportedly no longer in Rio de Janeiro. The original article (as linked at the top of this article) has since been completely edited to redact the whole story and issue a full apology. I hope that The Daily Beast and other editorials will remember in future that private people are private for a reason, and that there is still very real, damaging impacts from invading the privacy of LGBT+ people, closeted or not.
I reserve this tweet as a fitting judgement of this debacle.
For more political and personal tweets by the author: @pjazzymiles