This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.
Every four years, the Olympic Games takes place—a two-week spectacle that draws the world’s best athletes in a grueling, thrilling, exhilarating, and often nail-biting celebration of excellence in sport. That it is also fertile ground for sexual gymnastics of all sorts is well-known, too. Think about it: A concentration of the universe’s fittest bodies, an abundance of hormones, minds for years focused only on competition, and the desire for victory raging alongside the desire for release, not to mention the atmosphere of heightened intimacy bonding athletes together in the Olympic Village. It’s the perfect storm for hook-ups.
Although the athletes seem to assume that what happens in the village stays in the village, this is often not the case, and sexual scandals have rocked the Games with almost banal regularity.
For instance, the American target shooter Josh Lakatos in 2000 turned a house in Sydney’s Olympic Village—after being ordered to turn in the keys and return home by the U.S. Olympic Committee after his team’s events were over—into party central, and together with some teammates, armed everyone with condoms as they poured in and out of the premises.
As ESPN described it, the partying went on for eight days “as scores of Olympians, male and female, trickled into the shooter’s house—and that’s what everyone called it, Shooters’ House—at all hours, stopping by an Oakley duffel bag overflowing with condoms procured from the village’s helpful medical clinic. After a while, it dawned on Lakatos: ‘I’m running a friggin’ brothel in the Olympic Village! I’ve never witnessed so much debauchery in my entire life!’”
Some athletes have likened the out-of-competition games to “the first day of college.” It quickly becomes clear, continued the ESPN report, that “summer or winter, the games go on long after the medal ceremony. ‘There’s a lot of sex going on,’ says women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, a gold medalist in 2008. How much sex? ‘I’d say it’s 70 percent to 75 percent of Olympians,’ offers world-record-holding swimmer Ryan Lochte, ‘Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.'”
Was it some kind of ego trip under the guise of journalism, or some kind of sick, cruel, essentially homophobic stunt aimed at revealing the highly sexed and promiscuous nature of homosexuals, particularly those engaged in competitive sport?
Whatever lofty journalistic goals Nico believed he was pursuing when he lured athletes in the Olympic Village to meet up with him via Grindr were shattered when he wrote his story with nary a shred or decency nor respect for the privacy of these athletes, some of whom came from deeply homophobic countries where being outed could have deadly consequences, personally and professionally. The Daily Beast apparently condoned this vile and tawdry attempt at reportage and ran the story, taking it down days later and only after furious calls for it to be removed from the site.
No journalistic purpose was served by Nico’s description, in revealing detail, of the responses he received on the gay dating app, which did little to hide the athlete’s identities. Neither was any ethical standard upheld when Nico claimed honesty on his part, never intending to mislead his marks by claiming to be gay. In fact, he said, he disclosed when asked that he was a journalist and he was straight.
So why go lurking around a gay dating app, luring men into conversation or the promise of a hook-up? To gather empirical evidence of some sort? The more I think about what Nico did, the more malicious his intentions seem, despite his and his publication’s protestations.
“With his dubious premise established, Hines proceeds to out athlete after athlete, providing enough information about each Olympian he encounters for anyone with basic Google skills to uncover their identities. (After several minutes of Googling, I surmised the identities of five of the gay athletes Hines described.) I’m not going to repeat his descriptions, because—as Hines himself acknowledges!—some of them live in “notoriously homophobic” countries and remain closeted at home. Yes, the Daily Beast updated the article a few hours after publication to remove personally identifiable information (while insisting that outing gay athletes was ‘never our reporter’s intention.’) But really: Anyone who has heard of Grindr has also heard of the Wayback Machine. Nothing on the Internet can be reliably deleted.”
The openly gay Tongan Olympic swimmer Amini Fonua took up the cudgels for his fellow gay athletes and berated Nico Hines on Twitter:
Imagine the one space you can feel safe, the one space you’re able to be yourself, ruined by a straight person who thinks it’s all a joke?
It’s clear that Nico Hines does not respect that. It is clear that he, in his astoundingly cavalier disregard for not just the safety and security of these gay athletes, closeted or not, but their very essence as human beings, was exercising yet again that f*cking pernicious and dangerous malady of the straight white male: privilege.
It takes straight white male privilege to regard outing gay athletes as sport. It takes straight white male privilege to consider their fears for their own security, or their concerns for their own families and friends, or their anxieties about their own sporting careers once outed as somehow less significant than his need to out-scoop every other publication, his desire for what he believed would be journalistic glory. It takes straight white privilege to be oblivious to the very real risks and dangers everyone else who is not straight, white or male, faces.
It takes straight white male privilege to be an asshole.
I’ll let Amini Fonua have the last say:
”@NicoHines Seriously f*ck off with your str8 white male privilege preying on closeted people who can’t live in their truth yet. U ruin us”
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published earlier this year by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.