A “ultimatum”, that’s what the Sydney Morning Herald is accused of posing for Australian actress Rebel Wilson to reveal his homosexuality. On June 9, Andrew Hornery, a society columnist for the reputable Sydney newspaper, sent an email to the actress of Pitch Perfect. He warns her that he intends to reveal, in an article to be published on June 11, the name of his companion and asks her if she wishes to comment on the information.
Wilson had never revealed his homosexuality before. The actress chooses not to respond to the Australian journalist and posts a photo of her with her partner the same day on Instagramformalizing his coming out and thus anticipating the Herald. In response, Andrew Hornery publishes an article on June 11 in which he complains, in essence, of having had his scoop stolen.
The mea culpa of Sydney Morning Herald
Still, for many, the journalist did indeed impose a “forced coming out”. A wave of outrage followed on social media. Many personalities react to condemn the words of the journalist, qualifying his article as “scandalous”, “repulsive” and “ashamed”, enumerate the Los Angeles Times. Among them, Irish singer Ronan Keating or the BBC journalist Megha Mohan, who judges the methods of the newspaper close to those of the “trash press” of the 1990s.
Today, Andrew Hornery’s original column is no longer online. It was replaced on the site of the Sydney Morning Herald by one apology stand titled “I made a mistake with Rebel Wilson, and I won’t do it again.” The journalist defends himself and says he did not want to hurt the actress. “As a gay man, I am aware of the ravages of discrimination. It really wasn’t my intention to hurt him.” he writes.
He then explains that the newspaper teams have “clumsy summer”, and that contacting Rebel Wilson to warn her that they were going to reveal her relationship was right “a matter of transparency and fairness”, and in no case “an ultimatum”. He concludes :
“We don’t make money by revealing the homosexuality of stars and that’s not our point at all. But I can understand why this email was interpreted as a threat. The wording was probably to blame.”
“Bullying is not journalism”
The actress’ coming out sparked a lot of hate towards her on social media, regrets for his part The Independent. The revelation turned into “an explosive cocktail of dubious jokes, biphobia and denunciations”, writes the British newspaper. The actress also revealed that “it was very hard” on his Twitter account.
If, as journalist Andrew Hornery admits, “running a weekly celebrity privacy column has many pitfalls”, writing about the private lives of LGBTQI celebrities can be perceived as even more intrusive and violent, especially when they do not wish to speak publicly on the subject. While Bevan Shields – its editor – claims in a note published by the Herald that the newspaper would have done the same if Rebel Wilson’s partner had been a man, Nicky Bath, director of LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, quoted by the British daily Tea Guardian, explains that it is not the same thing:
“While society thinks ‘everything is fine’ for LGBTQI people, the reality is that homophobia still has a bright future ahead of it in Australia.”
In the same spirit, Ines Braga Sampaio, sports journalist at Portuguese radio Rádio Renascença, recalls on her Twitter account that “June is a good month [celui des marches des fiertés] so as not to forget that we, the media, must do even better in our coverage of the LGBTQI community. Harassment is not journalism.”