An Australian newspaper, and its lead gossip columnist, have both apologized for the role they potentially played in Rebel Wilson’s coming out.
Last Thursday, Wilson took to Instagram to reveal she’s dating a woman, entrepreneur Ramona Agruma. She and the leisurewear designer were previously photographed attending the Met Gala together and it’s believed they’ve been dating for several months.
However, on Saturday, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed it had approached Wilson before her Instagram posting. It said it had asked her to comment on her new relationship and gave her two days to respond before running a story.
Most onlookers took this as the media outlet pressuring her to give them an exclusive scoop, thus denying Wilson the opportunity to come out in her own time.
The newspaper’s gossip columnist, Andrew Hornery, who is gay, appeared to confirm this by throwing something of a hissy fit in his Saturday column.
“In a perfect world, ‘outing’ same-sex celebrity relationships should be a redundant concept in 2022. Love is love, right?”, he said.
“As Rebel Wilson knows, we do not live in a perfect world.
“So, it was with an abundance of caution and respect that this media outlet emailed Rebel Wilson’s representatives on Thursday morning, giving her two days to comment on her new relationship with LA leisure wear designer Ramona Agruma, before publishing a single word.”
Hornery went on to blast Wilson, claiming she instead “opted to gazump the story”.
He added the 42-year-old Australian actress’s “choice to ignore our discreet, genuine and honest queries was, in our view, underwhelming.”
This prompted a fierce backlash online, with many friends and supporters of Wilson saying that pressuring people to come out is not acceptable.
Coming out is often a long, scary process, with many beats. Self-realisation, telling friends & family, a first relationship. I thought the press forcing people to out themselves, regardless of whether or not they were ready, was a thing of the past. I must have been mistaken.
— Matt Lucas (@RealMattLucas) June 12, 2022
I’ve just read this @smh piece 3 times to make sure that I wasn’t misreading. The publication messaged Rebel Wilson saying they would out her in 2 days – and is now complaining that she chose to announce her relationship with a woman herself. Quite astonishing. pic.twitter.com/qiPZkYFmka
— Megha Mohan (@meghamohan) June 11, 2022
Yesterday, the Sydney Morning Herald’s editor, Bevan Shields, denied it had tried to out Wilson.
“Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.
“I had made no decision about whether or what to publish, and the Herald’s decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied.”
This did not go down well with many online.
Bold move to run an editor’s note claiming that the paper wasn’t trying to out Rebel Wilson after the columnist in question has already written not one but two columns describing in intricate detail his attempts to out Rebel Wilson
— Sarah Holland-Batt (@the_shb) June 12, 2022
Your paper has no god-given right to know anything about the private life of anyone
I don’t claim to speak on behalf of Rebel Wilson
But for LGBTQIA+ people the consequences of what is nothing more than a hissy fit over who gets to print gossip can have devastating effects https://t.co/mzrpHTsoU5
— Magda Szubanski AO (@MagdaSzubanski) June 13, 2022
Wilson herself commented on Twitter yesterday. Responding to another user who said it wasn’t Wilson’s choice to come out Thursday, Wilson responded, “Thanks for your comments, it was a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace.”
Thanks for your comments, it was a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace 💗
— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) June 12, 2022
Today, the Sydney Morning Herald has backtracked further. Horney admitted he screwed up.
“I have learnt some new and difficult lessons from this and want to be upfront with you about the things I got wrong,” he began.
“My email was never intended to be a threat but to make it clear I was sufficiently confident with my information and to open a conversation.
“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.”
He added, “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.”
He concluded by saying, “I got it wrong. I allowed my disappointment to cast a shadow over the piece. That was not fair and I apologize.
“As a result, the Herald will take down Saturday’s column and replace it with this one.”