An Australian journalist has apologised and admitted “mishandling” his approach to Rebel Wilson about her relationship, after being accused of outing the actress.
It comes after the Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect star shared a photo of herself with Ramona Agruma on Instagram, saying: “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess #loveislove.”
Afterwards, Sydney Morning Herald writer Andrew Hornery wrote a column on the background to Wilson‘s post, saying he had known about her relationship before it was made public and that the star had “ignored” his request for comment, instead opting to “gazump” him.
While the actress did not address the newspaper story directly, she tweeted in reply to someone criticising it: “Thanks for your comments, it was a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace.”
Following widespread criticism on social media, the Sydney Morning Herald has now removed the column from its website, replacing it with a new opinion piece by Hornery titled: I made mistakes over Rebel Wilson, and will learn from them.
“I genuinely regret that Rebel has found this hard,” he said. “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.”
Hornery explained he felt a celebrity romance was a “happy story” and that he gave representatives for Wilson about a day and a half to respond, saying he had “several sources” and “enough detail to publish”. However, he admitted he should have made it clear this was his deadline for writing the column and not an ultimatum.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He said if Wilson had responded, this “would have largely determined” what would be published and “at that point no decisions had actually been made by the Herald’s editors on whether to publish anything”.
‘It is simply not OK to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ people’
Hornery also admitted the tone of his initial column was “off”.
He continued: “I got it wrong. I allowed my disappointment to cast a shadow over the piece. That was not fair and I apologise.”
Following the journalist’s first column, LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall criticised the publication: “Coming out is a deeply personal decision.
“Whether, when and how to come out should be decided by the individual, entirely on their terms.
“It is simply not OK to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ people or put pressure on us to come out.
“Media outlets should take care not to sensationalise LGBTQ+ lives and relationships.”
Wilson received an outpouring of congratulations in response to her post, with thousands sharing messages and more than 1.7 million people “liking” her photo.