Late last month, after vocally anti-gay evangelical author and blogger Jonathan Merritt
's essay defending Chick-Fil-A
appeared in The Atlantic, Azariah Southworth outed Merritt on his blog.
with Merritt about his sexual orientation. Follow-up column from Southworth: Why I outed a Christian star
Southworth is the former host and producer of The Remix, a once-popular Christian reality TV show, which was pulled from the airwaves
back in 2008 after he came out
. Jonathan Merritt is the son of Dr. James Merritt
, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"Outing" public figures as gay or lesbian (who hide their sexual orientation, typically out of fear of homophobia) without their permission is not
a new practice, but it remains controversial
. The term "outing" gained prominence in March 1990 after Michaelangelo "Mike" Signorile wrote a cover story for the now-defunct magazine Outweek
: "The Secret Gay Life of Malcolm Forbes
." (pdf of that issue here
, archive of Outweek's entire run, here
of Signorile from June 1990. In 2007, he wrote about the Forbes story
. Throughout his career, Signorile has outed many celebrities and public figures, and was likely one of the first to do so as a form of pro-gay political activism,
by outing those whose rhetoric or political policies were anti-LGBT.
In 2009, a documentary by Kirby Dick called Outrage
was released. (Previously
.) It's available in its entirety on YouTube in nine parts
. English, with Portuguese subtitles. The movie outed a number of closeted gay politicians who create or vote for discriminatory, anti-LGBT legislation. NPR's review
of the film was censored prior to press
, to remove the names of three politicians.
For American media, there is no industry-wide standard regarding the ethics of outing. Back in 2010, a panel discussion about outing public figures
was held during the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association's 20th annual national convention in San Francisco. Signorile was one of the panel members.