Rebel Wilson Confirms Aussie Newspaper Threatened to Out Her

Rebel Wilson’s decision to announce her relationship with a woman was not entirely her choice, the Australian actress confirmed on Sunday.Wilson made her romance with fashion and jewelry designer Ramona Agruma Instagram official on Thursday, writing, “I thought I was searching for a Disney prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was…

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Rebel Wilson’s decision to announce her relationship with a woman was not entirely her choice, the Australian actress confirmed on Sunday.

Wilson made her romance with fashion and jewelry designer Ramona Agruma Instagram official on Thursday, writing, “I thought I was searching for a Disney prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess,” and hashtagging it “#loveislove.”

The pair had appeared at Vanity Fair’s Oscar afterparty together and Agruma had become something of a regular fixture on Wilson’s Instagram page in recent months, but the star had never commented on their relationship.

Some fans wondered, then: Why now? As it turns out, the Sydney Morning Herald is to blame.

On Saturday, the Herald published a column by social-scene writer Andrew Hornery, revealing the paper had been intent on reporting the news of Wilson’s relationship. Framing it as a “discreet, genuine, and honest” journalistic endeavor, Hornery wrote that it was out of a purported “abundance of caution and respect” that the Herald had given Wilson a two-day window to comment.

“Big mistake,” the columnist wrote. “Wilson opted to gazump the story.”

The 42-year-old actress on Sunday seemingly confirmed the Herald’s account, saying on Twitter that “it was a hard situation” but that she was “trying to handle it with grace.”

Activists and allies have frequently pointed out that it inappropriate to pressure anyone to comment on their sexuality, saying it should be a person’s choice as to when and how they come out as anything other than heterosexual.

A firestorm of social-media criticism has been leveled at the Herald and Hornery, who wrote in his column that “[o]f course, who anyone dates is their business,” only to hand-wave that sentiment away by accusing Wilson of “happily [having] fed such prurient interest when she had a hunky boyfriend on her arm.”

“It is unlikely she would have experienced the sort of discrimination let alone homophobia—subconscious or overt—that sadly still affects so many gay, lesbian and non-hetero people,” he argued later in the piece.

The Herald then doubled down, with editor Bevan Shields publishing yet another column in defense of the paper’s actions on Sunday. “We would have asked the same questions had Wilson’s new partner been a man,” he wrote. “To say that the Herald ‘outed’ Wilson is wrong.”

“Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response,” Shields continued. “I had made no decision about whether or what to publish, and the Herald’s decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied. Wilson made the decision to publicly disclose her new partner—who had been a feature of her social media accounts for months.”

But the paper’s defiant tone was dropped by Monday afternoon in Sydney, when Hornery published a deeper explanation of what he acknowledged were missteps. “I genuinely regret that Rebel has found this hard,” he wrote. “That was never my intention. But I see she has handled it all with extraordinary grace. 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.”

The gossip columnist said he had caught wind of the romance and had “assumed there was a good chance [Wilson] might be happy to discuss it,” given Pride, her Instagram activity, and a May interview with People, in which the actress had spoken about her new relationship (without identifying Agruma or disclosing details on her own sexuality).

Hornery inserted into his explanation the text of the email he said he had sent to Wilson’s representatives on Thursday morning. Requesting comment from the actress, his short email included the line: “While I realise Rebel’s partner has not been mentioned as yet, I have several sources who have confirmed their status and I have enough detail to publish.”

It was never intended to pressure her into coming out, Hornery said Monday. “But I understand why my email has been seen as a threat. The framing of it was a mistake.”

The original Saturday column that sparked the furor was taken down by the Herald soon afterward. As of Monday, the page displayed a short note directing readers to Hornery’s mea culpa, and a photo of Wilson and Agruma.

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