Yesterday (August 11), the internet was awash with criticism over an article that was published on The Daily Beast that appeared to exploit LGBTQ+ athletes and olympians competing in the Olympic games in Rio.
The article was written by Nico Hines – a straight, married, white, cisgender male journalist – and saw him signing up for dating apps Tinder, Grindr, and Jack’d (amongst others) in a misguided to highlight how the Olympic village was a hotbed for sexual trysts.
Originally titled “I got three Grindr dates in an hour in the Olympic village,” the article saw Hines give detailed accounts of the offers he received on the dating apps, most specifically Grindr, including the height, weight, and nationalities of various athletes.
Almost immediately after publishing the article, The Daily Beast and Nico Hines were hit with a barrage of criticism from members of the LGBTQ press and on social media arguing that the article was not only completely unethical, but also dangerous
Many people stated that while no names were given, it was not hard to identify the athletes from the detailed descriptions. This, they said, may have outed those competing in the games, many of whom live in countries with homophobic laws and attitudes. This was a fact that Hines actually acknowledged in his article.
Soon after publication, the article was amended to remove and identifying factors that were included. But by this point the damage had been done and ultimately the article was pulled from the website.
In a statement released by “the editors,” The Daily Beast apologized for the article, saying “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.”
Continuing, they added, “The article was not intended to do harm or degrade members of the LGBT community, but intent doesn’t matter, impact does.
“We were wrong. We will do better.”
Understandably, the olympians competing in the games have remained quiet on the matter.
However, Amini Fonua, an Olympic swimmer who is openly gay, has taken to twitter to criticize the article and highlight the potential damage it may have caused.
Fonua, who is representing Tonga, a Polynesian sovereign state that has strict homophobic laws, then made this excellent point about why Hines’ article was particularly bad.
This is SO incredibly important. In an article that appears to be all about slut shaming athletes for wanting to have sex, The Daily Beast and Hines may have put the lives of olympians in danger. Not only is it unethical, but it shows a distinct lack of understanding for marginalized communities and the need for space spaces.
While we’re sure that there was no malicious intent the publication and writer, it seems that an lack of understanding of LGBTQ+ culture was a massive factor when it came to the commissioning and publication of the article.
In the spirit of pride, however, Fonua decided to poke fun at the article by posting a nude picture on Instagram.
Taking to Twitter again, the athlete also wrote, “Thank you for the amazing support! We were successful in defeating ignorance with truth & honesty; #strengthinnumbers #pride ❤️💛💚💜💙”
What this whole debacle highlights is that we need to strive even harder for minority voices to be heard and represented in all parts of life, not just the media.