When Rebel Wilson announced that she had fallen in love with clothing designer Ramona Agruma, the LGBTIQ+ community celebrated her coming out and wished the happy couple well.
“I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.”Rebel Wilson
However the positive reaction was short lived, because it soon emerged that Wilson had been forced to come out by Andrew Hornery, a gossip columnist working for the Sydney Morning Herald.
After being given a deadline to answer questions by the columnist before he went to press, Rebel Wilson chose to come out herself via Instagram.
Coming Out as LGBTIQ+ is a deeply personal decision
Coming out is a momentous decision, and not one that people are usually comfortable doing in the public eye.
When someone comes out they are often worried about how friends, family and the general public will react. This is why the decision to come out and how to do it is a deeply personal one, and it is not one that should be taken lightly.
It is a decision that should be made by the person who is coming out, and not by someone else.
Forcing someone to come out before they are ready is a violation of their privacy, and it can be deeply traumatizing. It is important to remember that not everyone is comfortable with coming out, and that not everyone is in a position to do so.
Calls for media accountability
This incident has led to calls for media outlets to be more accountable for the way they report on LGBTIQ+ issues, and to respect the privacy of the people involved.
Several organisations and people in the public eye called on media outlets to respect the privacy of the LGBTIQ+ community, and that they not force people to come out before they are ready to do so.
Initially Andrew Hornery and the Sydney Morning Herald defended their decision to force Wilson to come out, however they then backed down when confronted with a tsunami of public criticism
A public apology
The gossip journalist issued an apology on June 13.
“I genuinely regret that Rebel has found this hard. That was never my intention. But I see she has handled it all with extraordinary grace. … As a gay man I’m well aware of how deeply discrimination hurts. The last thing I would ever want to do is inflict that pain on someone else. …
It is not the Herald’s business to “out” people and that is not what we set out to do. But I understand why my email has been seen as a threat. The framing of it was a mistake.
The Herald and I will approach things differently from now on to make sure we always take into consideration the extra layer of complexities people face when it comes to their sexuality.
Celebrities have huge influence in our culture. We still have to ask questions, sometimes very difficult ones. It would be much worse to write gossip items about the unscripted events in their lives without them having a chance to have their say. But we need to make it clear that a deadline is not an ultimatum.
In trying to tell the story within the story, which is what Private Sydney does, the tone of my column on Saturday was also off. I got it wrong. I allowed my disappointment to cast a shadow over the piece. That was not fair and I apologise.
As a result, the Herald will take down Saturday’s column and replace it with this one.”Andrew Hornery
Final thoughts on LGBTIQ+ Privacy
Rebel Wilson thanked her fans and the LGBTIQ+ community for their support over the last few days.
If you are struggling with coming out, or are facing discrimination because of your sexuality , there are a number of organisations that can help.
United Kingdom – Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline
Australia –Qlife, an Australia-wide anonymous and free LGBTI peer support for people wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. Call 1800 184 527 or webchat 3pm-12am AEST.
United States – LGBT National Hotline 888-843-4564