Popular actor and comedian Rebel Wilson announced her relationship with girlfriend Ramona Agruma on Friday, but the excitement quickly soured when social media users accused an Australian newspaper of trying to “out” Wilson.
After the Sydney Morning Herald published an article on Saturday in which columnist Andrew Hornery complained about being “gazumped” by Wilson’s announcement, the outlet faced major backlash.
In the column, Hornery wrote about how he sent an email to Wilson, 42, on Thursday, asking questions about her relationship before it had gone public. In the email, the journalist gave Wilson a two-day deadline to respond to his plans to write about the relationship.
Before the deadline, Wilson broke the news of her relationship on Instagram, writing, “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.”
“Who anyone dates is their business, but Wilson happily fed such prurient interest when she had a hunky boyfriend on her arm,” Hornery wrote in the Saturday column. He added that Wilson would have been unlikely to experience homophobic backlash about her new relationship to the female athleisure fashion designer, as “sexual orientation is no longer something to be hidden.”
The article by Hornery, titled “Rebel starts spreading the news of relationship,” has since been removed.
The Sydney Morning Herald also released a statement on Monday, claiming it “simply asked the questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.”
The newspaper wrote “to say that the Herald ‘outed’ Rebel Wilson is wrong.”
“Our weekly Private Sydney celebrity column asked Wilson if she wished to comment about her new partner. We would have asked the same questions had Wilson’s new partner been a man,” editor Bevan Shields said in the statement.
“We made no decision about whether or what to publish, and our decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied,” Shields continued.
On Monday, Hornery wrote a new column, entitled, “I made mistakes over Rebel Wilson, and will learn from them.”
In the new article, Hornery wrote he has “learnt some new and difficult lessons,” as a result of his Saturday column.
“I genuinely regret that Rebel has found this hard. That was never my intention,” he wrote.
He continued, writing: “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 admitted the Herald “mishandled steps” in its approach to asking Wilson about her relationship.
He said his email to Wilson received no response. He wrote that the email was never meant to be interpreted as a threat.
On Twitter on Monday, Wilson finally broke her public silence about the Herald, writing it was a “very hard situation.”
The Sydney Herald claimed in Hornery’s new column it will take a new approach when asking celebrities personal questions and will “always take into consideration the extra layer of complexities people face when it comes to their sexuality.”
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