Some Live in Countries Where It's Literally Dangerous to Be LGBT
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The Daily Beast is under fire after its London editor published an article describing how he used the gay "hook up" app, Grindr, to meet LGBT Olympic athletes in Rio, and then proceeded to possibly out them. Nico Hines, a straight, married man with children, is accused of publishing details that could allow people to identify the athletes he messaged with, including, for at least one, the county they're from.
In response to intense condemnation from the news media and from social media, Daily Beast Editor in Chief John Avlon had the piece reworked, supposedly removing any identifying information, but left it online and added an inadequate explanation and what is supposed to serve as an apology: "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."
But no apology is sufficient for possibly placing in danger someone's life, which effectively is what Hines and The Daily Beast may have done.
Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams notes 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 adds: "Hines drops little clues about other prospective dates, like their rankings."
Hines, in his article – which was originally titled, "I Got Three Grindr Dates in an Hour in the Olympic Village" – tries to justify his actions: he never lied, he claims, apparently not quite understanding nuance.
"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 (just of my face…) and confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who I was."
Slate's Mark Joseph Stern accurately describes Hines' piece as an "astoundingly creepy exercise in Grindr-baiting," and observes that Hines "believes gays are more promiscuous than straight people—a theme to which Hines often returns throughout his vile piece."
Stern takes Hines' "I didn't lie" claim to task, explaining, "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."
Mic's Matthew Rodriguez adds, "Putting an Olympian's stats next to their country of origin endangers the well-being of that person, especially when one athlete was from Central Asia, a region in which LGBT people are 'marginalized, criminalized, and are exposed to high levels of violence, harassment and discrimination,' according to one U.S. congressman's testimony."
Vox's German Lopez notes the obvious, but it's something that needs to be said: "The first big problem is the story offers zero value to readers."
And Lopez encapsulates the real problem:
"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."