The original piece titled ‘I got three Grindr dates in an Hour in the Olympic Village’ was written by straight Daily Beast journalist Nico Hines. The article has since been heavily edited, after huge backlash.
The journalist was writing about reports of hook ups and sex parties that were happening during the Rio Olympics and took to the gay hookup/dating site, Grindr himself. Though he never names an athlete, in the original piece he states the country the athletes are from. Due to the small number of people competing from some countries, he was potentially outing closeted athletes – including at least one from a country where gay sex is a crime.
Hines insists that he was being upfront with the athletes: “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.”
One Scottish MP, Stewart McDonald, who is the vice-chair of Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights, was troubled by the article.
The MP said: “The Nico Hines ‘story’ on Grindr and the Olympics village is not journalism. It’s trashy at best and incredibly dangerous at worst.
“What he has done is potentially extremely dangerous for at least one person in his article.
“Story achieved totally dishonourably and will no doubt cause fear and alarm for individuals practically outed by him. He should be ashamed.
“I invite Nico Hines to meet with me, members of the APPG and others, so he can fully grasp the potential impact of what he has done.”
The article has been drastically amended in reaction to the concerns and in an effort to de-emphasise the focus on gay sex. It now bares the name ‘The Other Olympic Sport in Rio: Swiping’.
John Avlon, Editor in Chief of the Daily Beast, responded to the controversy:
“We take such complaints seriously because a central part of The Daily Beast’s mission is to fight for full equality and equal treatment for LGBT people around the world. Publishing an article that in any way could be seen as homophobic is contrary to our mission.
“There was some concern that the original version of this story might out gay male athletes, even by implication, or compromise their safety.
“This was never our reporter’s intention, of course. 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. As a result, we have removed all descriptions of the men and women’s profiles that we previously described.”
He added: “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.
“Some readers have read Nico as mocking or sex-shaming those on Grindr. We do not feel he did this in any way. However, The Daily Beast understands that others may have interpreted the piece differently.
“Accordingly, 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.”