Exclusive: The Mail just outed a gay teenager against his will

PinkNews Exclusive
A teenage Conservative Party activist says he is “devastated” and “living in fear” after he was allegedly ‘outed’ against his wishes by MailOnline.

On Wednesday morning, the newspaper published a story entitled ‘Not very Conservative behaviour!’, about young Conservative activists enjoying a night-out after the Tory Party Conference in Manchester.

The article included photographs of young party members kissing.

However, the two men kissing were allegedly not warned – and the photograph has supposedly ‘outed’ one of the men involved.

One of the young men in the photographs, who does not wish to be named, told PinkNews: “At the moment I’m living in fear, I don’t feel like I can even leave the house because of what people might say”.

The man says he is “devastated” by the pictures, which were captioned: ‘Two men kiss on the streets of Manchester as young Tories make the most of the time in the city for party conference’.

The newspaper also published pictures of the two men embracing, with the caption: ‘The two young men hold hands as they walk through Manchester as many young Conservatives let their hair down’.

“I’m devastated. I’m literally shaking with nerves right now,” he said.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The young Tory party member alleges that he wasn’t aware of the images before publication and he did not consent to them being taken.

“I started getting messages from a friend asking if it was me and they linked me to it. That was first I knew about it.”

He explained: “Those photos were taken after I had left an event held by Conservatives for Liberty, Freedom Fizz. I was with the other man in the photo at the event and we hit it off.”

The pair – who are not a couple – were on their way to another bar, a mile long walk away, when the photographer took several pictures of them together.

Theresa May addressed the party conference

The delegate to the Conservative Party conference had not been publicly out to many people because of the ‘hostility’ towards the LGBTQ community in his small town.

“I’ve been open about sexuality to very few people, a couple of friends at most. My town is quite hostile to homosexuality and most of my family is as well,” explained the distraught delegate.

The 19-year-old activist now says he faces a struggle with his mental health because of the public outing. “To be honest I’ve struggled with mental health for a long time. I feel like I’m going back into crisis”, he said.

The teenaged politics enthusiast has also been left wondering how family and friends will react, saying: “I know it’s an overreaction and I feel silly but I don’t know how people are going to respond and it terrifies me”.

“My grandparents have seen it, my parents, my friends and my work colleagues. I’ve had messages all day hassling me, I haven’t read them, I can’t bear to think what they say.”

Several family members have also spurned him, he says. “My father, who speaks to me often, isn’t taking my calls. My grandparents haven’t said more than two words to me since they saw it this morning”.

The Tory member is unsure when family members will talk to him again. “I honestly don’t know what will happen next,” he explains. “I feel like my life has been turned upside down.”

The ordeal has left him with only one question. “Why?” he asks. “Why take those photos and follow two man having fun for a mile and bit? Why use your power as a journalist to shame me and drive me to a breaking point?”

PinkNews reached out to the authors of the MailOnline article for comment.

They did not respond to our requests for comment before publication.

However, following our request for comment, the article appears to have been quietly updated to remove the images and references to the two activists.

Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green Mike Freer, told PinkNews: “This year’s Conservative Party Conference was the most diverse and inclusive I can remember, with many LGBT events oversubscribed.

“It is wrong for the Daily Mail to out any gay man or women and the Party’s many gay activists should be able to take part in the Conference and enjoy it like every other delegate. No delegate, gay or straight, should have to worry about tabloids surreptitiously photographing them. I will be asking the Party Chairman to make a formal complaint to the Daily Mail.”

It’s not the first time the Mail has come under fire for its approach to LGBT issues recently.

The newspaper last month attacked a memorial for men who were executed for being gay, decrying it as a “politically correct stunt”.

A Mail columnist also recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality by making homophobic jokes about a serving military official.

Richard Littlejohn published a 1500-word piece attacking Rear Admiral Alex J. Burton, who is the Commander United Kingdom Maritime Forces, writing: “Oooo, ’ello, I’m Julian and this is my friend Rear Admiral Burton. Isn’t he bona?”

Littlejohn also alluded to the 1970s homophobic slur ‘pillow biter’. while referring to transgender people as “those unfortunate people”.

Related: No, Daily Mail, Father’s Day has not been ‘banned’ because of gay people