Australian newspaper removes Rebel Wilson column, but denies exposing it

Before Rebel Wilson, the Australian actress and comedian, publicly revealed her new relationship, an Australian celebrity columnist had given her reps less than two days to comment before publishing a column about the new couple.

In a since-deleted column published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, columnist Andrew Hornery said that instead of “exposing” Ms Wilson, 42, he “erred on the side of caution” and gave her to his representatives for two days to comment on his relationship with Ramona Agruma, a designer, “before publishing a single word.”

“In a perfect world, celebrity same-sex relationships should be a redundant concept by 2022,” Hornery wrote. “Love is love, right?”

“Big mistake,” Hornery said in the deleted column, adding that Wilson “chose to ignore the story” by first revealing their relationship on Instagram.

The column drew criticism online from fans of Ms. Wilson, other journalists and members of the LGBTQ community, who say the decision to come out and when to do so is a personal one. While Ms. Wilson had previously shared photos of her with Ms. Agruma online, she had not publicly shared that they were dating her.

In the Instagram post, Ms. Wilson, known for her roles in “Bridesmaids” and “Pitch Perfect,” shared that she was in a relationship with Ms. Agruma, the founder of a Los Angeles-based fashion brand.

“I thought I was looking for a Disney Prince…but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess,” Wilson said in the post, which had received more than 1.8 million likes.

A representative for Ms. Wilson declined to comment Monday, and Ms. Agruma did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Taking note of online criticism, Ms. Wilson he tweeted on Sunday that “it was a very tough situation” but that he “tried to handle it gracefully.”

Hornery, who is gay, wrote in his “Private Sydney” celebrity column on Saturday that Wilson’s “choice to ignore” his “discreet, genuine and honest inquiries was, in our opinion, disappointing.”

“Of course, who someone dates is their business, but Wilson happily nurtured that prurient interest when she had a handsome boyfriend,” Hornery wrote, in an apparent reference to Jacob Busch, a descendant of the family that founded the American brewing company Anheuser. . -Busch.

Hornery did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

In a new column published Monday, he said the newspaper had “mishandled the steps in our approach” and that the original column had been removed from The Morning Herald’s website. The new column was titled: “I made mistakes with Rebel Wilson and I will learn from them.”

“I am truly sorry that Rebel found this difficult,” Hornery wrote. “That was never my intention. But I see that he has handled it all with extraordinary grace. As a gay man, I am well aware of how deeply discrimination hurts. The last thing I would want to do is inflict that pain on someone else.”

In a statement, Cathy Renna, a spokeswoman for the National LGBTQ Task Force, said, “Coming out on your own terms can be a personal and professional challenge, even when it’s a positive, celebratory and inspiring act like posting out of Wilson’s closet. it was for so many.”

“While we see a generation of young people, and most people, cheer and then get on with their lives when a celebrity shows up, we know there is still anti-LGBTQ sentiment and backlash that can affect our lives in many ways,” said. .

Aryn Fields, a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Campaign, said the decision to come out “is a deeply personal choice.”

“Each of us deserves the chance to come out on our own terms, and if that wasn’t true for Rebel Wilson, it should have been,” said Ms. Fields.

In his new column, Mr. Hornery said he contacted Ms. Wilson’s management on Thursday morning by email to ask if she wanted to comment on the relationship, noting that her deadline was 1pm on Friday. He said that he had several sources who had confirmed the relationship, but that he was seeking comment “in the interest of transparency and fairness.”

The next morning, Ms. Wilson shared her Instagram post.

“I received no response, which was totally correct for Rebel,” Hornery wrote. He said that in the future the newspaper will exercise more care in stories involving people’s sexuality. “It’s not the Herald’s business to expose people and that’s not what we set out to do. But I understand why my email has been seen as a threat. The framing was a mistake.”

In an editor’s note published on Sunday, Bevan Shields, editor of The Morning Herald, which is owned by Nine Entertainment, said he had been carefully reading comments about the column.

But Mr. Shields wrote that “to say that the Herald ‘exposed’ Wilson is wrong.”

He said the columnist “simply asked questions and, as standard practice, included a deadline for a response.”

“I hadn’t made any decisions about whether to post or what,” Shields wrote, saying he would have taken her response into account. “Wilson made the decision to publicly reveal his new partner, who had been a feature of his social media accounts for months.”

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