In the discussion of self-disclosure, we often mention the process of outing which essentially is disclosure by some third person. Originally the term was used to refer to disclosing someone’s homosexuality as a way of preventing him or her from discriminating against the gay community. So, if a politician advocates homophobic policies, outing him or her, effectively strips the person of influence.
A somewhat different form of outing occurred in an article, “Beirut, the Provincetown of the Middle East” (New York Times, August 2, 2009). Author Patrick Healy wrote in detail about gay life in Lebanon. Unfortunately, homosexuality is illegal in Lebanon and the article, as a writer from Beirut noted, “effectively outed the entire underground gay scene in a country relatively hostile to homosexuality”. I’m not sure what the motivations of the writer or of the NYTimes were in publishing such an article, but it seems the article can have enormous negative consequences for gay people and for gay establishments in Lebanon. Did the author and the NYTimes want to cause problems for the gay community? Did they want to encourage the Lebanon police to crack down on gay meeting places? Did they just want to sell newspapers? This is a good example of how revealing private information about others can have serious consequences and raises important issues about the responsibilities of the media.

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