Creep of the Week

Creep of the Week: Nico Hines

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By D’Anne Witkowski

It is no secret that Olympic athletes have sex. It’s also no secret that they hook up with each other in the Olympic village. I mean, we’re talking about a land full of young people with chiseled bodies and lots of stamina. So, yeah, there’s a whole lot of humpin’ going’ on.
It is also no secret that some Olympic athletes are gay. Actually, secret is a problematic word here because often the specific identity of gay athletes are secret. Sometimes this is because a particular athlete isn’t out yet for a variety of reasons. Maybe they fear losing sponsorship opportunities, maybe they fear what their teammates will think, maybe they just aren’t fully accepting of who they are yet and are not ready to publicly declare a sexual identity.
But other times the reason for staying closeted are much more dire, especially for athletes from notoriously anti-gay counties where homosexuality is severely punished up to and including death. Uganda, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Yemen, for example, are places where being gay can cost you your life. In any country under sharia law gay people are in danger. And, of course, any place where ISIS has taken over. They reportedly just threw a man off of a building for being gay. They are sick fucks.
So you’d have to be a pretty big douche bag to out Olympic athletes just for the fun of it. Alas, this is essentially what journalist Nico Hines did for a Daily Beast article titled, “I Got Three Grindr Dates in an Hour in the Olympic Village,” complete with a collage of a rainbow flag, the Olympic rings, and the Grindr logo. Very subtle.
The article has since been taken down, but it was up long enough to do real damage. Hines wrote about cruising the Olympic Village for sex using Grindr, a gay hook up app, and finding a whole host of guys who were DTF. In the article he included identifying characteristics that could be used to out the athletes he had “dates” with.
And even if none of the athletes mentioned face any direct repercussions, the article was a romp through homophobic tropes, as if the fact that gay sex even exists among Olympic athletes – you know, “real men” – is newsworthy.
Hines, who is a heterosexual married man with kids, is essentially clueless about the subject he decided to write about in a piece that was nothing but clickbait to begin with. How could he possibly know the fear and the shame that closeted LGBT people live with – not to mention the fear and the shame that out LGBT people live with and struggle against daily? However, being ignorant does not give him a pass. He knew that this subject was titillating and so he went for it, consequences be damned.
The Daily Beast did pull Hines out of Rio and they edited the piece before ultimately taking it down. But as we all know, once on the Internet, always on the Internet.
In a statement on the Daily Beast page, they write, “The article was not intended to do harm or degrade members of the LGBT community, but intent doesn’t matter, impact does. Our hope is that removing an article that is in conflict with both our values and what we aspire to as journalists will demonstrate how seriously we take our error.”
Which is all well and good. But it was a big mistake. Mistakes suck, but ideally we learn from them. The Daily Beast seems poised to get schooled. Let’s hope Hines does, too. But above all, let’s hope that nobody gets thrown off of any buildings.

DAnne Witkowski

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.

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