The Daily Beast has pulled down parts of an article about Olympic athletes on Grindr.
The piece, originally titled ‘I got three Grindr dates in an Hour in the Olympic Village’ but since heavily edited, was written by straight, married journalist Nico Hines.
Hines reflected on reports of hook-ups and sex parties during the Olympics, and took to Grindr in Rio himself in a bid to find athletes who were up for sex.
The article recounted the country and sport of many of those looking for sex on Grindr.
Due to the small number of athletes competing in each sport from some of the referenced countries, the story potentially identified closeted athletes – including at least one from a country where gay sex is a crime.
Hines insisted: “For the record, I didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t – unless you count being on Grindr in the first place – since I’m straight, with a wife and child. I used my own picture (just of my face…) and confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who I was.”
But Scottish MP Stewart McDonald, vice-chair of Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights, hit out at the “damaging” story.
He said: “The Nico Hines ‘story’ on Grindr and the Olympics village is not journalism. It’s trashy at best and incredibly dangerous at worst.
“What he has done is potentially extremely dangerous for at least one person in his article.
“Story achieved totally dishonourably and will no doubt cause fear and alarm for individuals practically outed by him. He should be ashamed.
“I invite Nico Hines to meet with me, members of the APPG and others, so he can fully grasp the potential impact of what he has done.”
The piece has now been amended to remove explicit reference to athletes and the countries they represent.
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It has also been extensively re-written to de-emphasise the focus on gay sex, and now bears the headline ‘The Other Olympic Sport in Rio: Swiping’.
It now only references “a track star, a volleyball player, a record-holder in the pool, a sailor, a diver, and a handball player”.
John Avlon, Editor in Chief of the Daily Beast, said:”A number of readers complained to The Daily Beast after the publication of the original iteration of this story.
“We take such complaints seriously because a central part of The Daily Beast’s mission is to fight for full equality and equal treatment for LGBT people around the world. Publishing an article that in any way could be seen as homophobic is contrary to our mission.
“There was some concern that the original version of this story might out gay male athletes, even by implication, or compromise their safety.
“This was never our reporter’s intention, of course. No names were ever used and some of the profiles described were of straight women. But there was a concern that even mentioning the home nation of some gay athletes could compromise their safety. As a result, we have removed all descriptions of the men and women’s profiles that we previously described.”
He added: “The concept for the piece was to see how dating and hook-up apps were being used in Rio by athletes. It just so happened that Nico had many more responses on Grindr than apps that cater mostly to straight people, and so he wrote about that. Had he received straight invitations, he would have written about those. He never claimed to be anyone he was not, did not offer anything to anyone, and immediately admitted that he was a journalist whenever he was asked who he was.
“Some readers have read Nico as mocking or sex-shaming those on Grindr. We do not feel he did this in any way. However, The Daily Beast understands that others may have interpreted the piece differently.
“Accordingly, we have made some editorial changes to the article, responding to readers’ concerns, and are again sorry for any upset the original version of this piece inspired.”