Thursday morning the internet was abuzz with news that Nico Hines, a writer for the The Daily Beast posted an outright homophobic, sex-shaming piece that potentially outed homosexual athletes, some from countries that are unsafe for LGBTQ individuals.
Writing for Slate, journalist Mark Joseph Stern calls the piece by Hines “uniquely disgusting and irresponsible entry into the tired genre. Hines entices his (often closeted) subjects under false pretenses; effectively outs several closeted athletes who live in repressive countries; then writes about the whole thing in a tone of mocking yet lurid condescension.”
Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote that Hines “proudly declares that he caught the eye of men competing in a variety of events that he specifically names, and from a variety of nations he also names — including one man ‘from a notoriously homophobic country.’ He also identifies his event.”
Williams went on to add that “Hines drops little clues about other prospective dates, like their rankings.”
These athletes, many of whom come from unsafe countries, likely found a bit of freedom to be themselves in Rio and explore their sexuality in ways they cannot at home or at least not safely. Then, along comes Hines who lures them in under false pretenses and then endangers their lives. To top it off, he doesn’t think he did anything wrong.
“For the record,” Hines writes, “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.”
Yes, being on Grindr, to begin with, does count as a lie and is deceitful.
“This sentence reflects a stunning amount of ignorance, because, in Hines’ situation, of course being on Grindr in the first place is a lie. Grindr is an app for men who wish to hook up with other men. That is its purpose! To be on Grindr when you do not have that goal, and when you could not possibly have that goal because you are straight, is itself a mendacious deception,” writes Slate’s Stern.Around 10:30 AM Thursday morning, The Daily Beast editor in chief, John Avlon, offered a pathetic excuse for an apology for putting athletes lives at risk.
“No names were ever used and some of the profiles described were of straight women. But there was a concern that even mentioning the home nation of some gay athletes could compromise their safety. We apologize for potentially jeopardizing that safety in any way. As a result, we have removed all descriptions of the men and women’s profiles that we previously described,” wrote Avlon.
He named some women too, does not excuse any of it. Why is it okay as long as he potentially shamed women looking to have sex in Rio?
“The concept for the piece was to see how dating and hook-up apps were being used in Rio by athletes. It just so happened that Nico had many more responses on Grindr than apps that cater mostly to straight people, and so he wrote about that. Had he received straight invitations, he would have written about those. He never claimed to be anyone he was not, did not offer anything to anyone, and immediately admitted that he was a journalist whenever he was asked who he was,” Avlon continued.
He never claimed to be anyone he was not? Except for claiming to be a gay man on Grindr looking for a hookup.
“The first big problem is the story offers zero value to readers,” Vox’s German Lopez noted.
Lopez continued by highlighting the massive problem with Hines’ article, to begin with.
“That a straight Daily Beast writer directly violated this basic expectation of anonymity puts these athletes at risk. This may be unimaginable to those who don’t know what homosexuality around the world looks like. But remember, some of these athletes are from countries where homosexuality is still very socially stigmatized, illegal, or even punished by death. If any of these people are exposed, it could ruin their careers or even put them in prison or worse.”
That doesn’t seem to matter to Hines or Avlon, though, because they got clicks on a useless article that teaches us nothing except that journalist ethics don’t exist at their publication. Putting lives at risk for a few extra clicks and a few extra ad dollars are apparently worth it.