The Daily Beast reporter Nico Hines examined the gay hook-up app culture in the Olympic Village in Rio in an investigative story posted on Thursday that some readers believe could be “incredibly dangerous.”
The story follows reports that 450,000 condoms have been supplied to the 10,500 athletes in Rio where dating and hook-up app usage is at an all-time high among athletes in general.
Hines, who is married to a woman and has a child, decided to investigate the phenomenon by looking for gay athletes on Bumble, Grindr, Jack’d and Tindr. He noted that he found the most success on Grindr and found three dates in an hour. His investigation reported that men asked him for naked pictures and were interested in meeting for sex “before 5:30 in the evening.”
He says he “confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who [he] was,” but never revealed he was a straight man. In the article, Hines insists he didn’t pretend to be someone he’s not “unless you count being on Grindr in the first place.”
Although Hines never identifies the athletes by name, he describes them by their height, weight and nationality. The descriptions have raised concerns for those athletes from countries where LGBT individuals have no legal protection against anti-LGBT violence. Brazil also has one of the highest LGBT murder rates in the world, according to OutRight National International.
Readers were not intrigued by Hines’s journalism and were instead alarmed and outraged.
Heaven forbid gay men have sex at the Olympics. Not like straight men are doing it too, but why dig into that when you can mock and demean.
— Ira Madison III (@ira) August 11, 2016
— Nick Coveney (@nmjcoveney) August 11, 2016
ANY journo using gay hookup apps as a source of content – really think about whether it’s going to change the world, or merely titillate.
— The Guyliner (@theguyliner) August 11, 2016
The @NicoHines ‘story’ on Grindr and the olympics village is not journalism. It’s trashy at best and incredibly dangerous at worst.
— Stewart McDonald MP (@StewartMcDonald) August 11, 2016
The Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief John Avalon included an editor’s note at the end of the piece saying that due to a large number of complaints the story had been edited to protect the athletes’ identities. Avalon also apologized for the controversy.
“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,” Avalon writes. “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.”
Despite the backlash, Avalon says The Daily Beast still stands by the story.
“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,” Avalon concluded.