The Catfishing And Outing Of LGBT Olympians Put Lives At Risk

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A reporter for The Daily Beast is in the news this week for catfishing gay Olympic athletes on the dating app Grindr

I'm not going to use that reporter's name or even link to the article (which has now been removed), because I don't believe the deliberate, malicious, outing of members of the LGBTQ community is something I want to support, even in an article where I condemn this reporter's actions. 

The writer's prurience and deceit (he is married with a child) are disgusting for a variety of reasons. Lies are a dime-a-dozen on dating apps, but reporters baiting athletes during one of the most trying and important times of their careers is a new kind of low. 

Here in the United States, we are fortunate to live in a culture that is seeing quick, positive change in how we relate to members of the LGBTQ community. Gay marriage is mostly legal, and tide seems to slowly be surely be shifting in favor of inclusion regardless of one's sexual identity or orientation.

That's what makes stories like this one so incredibly important to call out.

They are regressive, they are malicious, and we need to make sure they stop happening.

When a person decides to out themselves, it is their decision to make. You can posture and hide behind the idea of "I just didn't want them to hide who they are" or some such nonsense, but the truth is, it's their life and their decision.

If you want to support a closeted friend, do just that — support them. Listen, give them a shoulder when they need it, and make it very clear to them that you aren't going anywhere, that you love them. 

A person's decision to be in the closet has nothing to do with you.

It isn't your business, unless you're their partner or their therapist. Because while our world is changing quickly for the better, it is still a deeply imperfect place. It is also a place that can be deeply cruel to members of the LGBTQ community, especially those who dare to be in the public eye. 

And other societies across the world aren't nearly as supportive. In other places, being an out queer person can put your life at risk. 

The only time outing someone isn't an overtly cruel action is when you're outing, say, a rapidly conservative public figure in power and who is speaking hate speech and advocating hateful legislation. Even then, there's a right way to do it. You don't point your figure and decry them, you point out their hypocrisy to take away their power and stop the cycle of hate. 

These LGBTQ Olympic athletes weren't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes.

They were on a dating app hoping to connect with another person. It's got nothing to do with their athletic ability, and it's certainly not newsworthy.

Can you imagine if we treated known straight athletes this way? "Breaking news: Ryan Lochte got a boner this morning, masturbated to completion." It seems farcical, but it's no more overtly sensationalized then the actions of this reporter. 

We can do better. 


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