On Monday 13 February, The Sun newspaper published an expose about a young male nurse (who we will not name) having starred in gay porn prior to qualifying in his chosen field. The Sun’s act was abhorrent and highlights the absolute worst in journalism. In fact I wouldn’t even call it journalism. It was an article of gloating, an article screaming, ‘Look who we found, and look what they’re doing now.’
The article at no point called into question the nurse’s ability to do their job or their ability to provide genuine care – because the paper couldn’t. What it did was follow then attack an individual, and potentially ruin his new career, a career he had spent at least three years at university studying for. The Sun even highlighted that the nurse in question was awarded a National HIV Nurses Association Certificate, a great cause and an honourable achievement, yet The Sun appeared to, in my opinion, use this to demonise the nurse further.
I find it hugely ironic that The Sun deems this a national interest story, when it’s okay for them to print their daily pornography on page 3. Is it of national interest because he’s gay? Because he’s now a nurse? Is this to become the start of a media witch hunt?
Last year gay YouTuber Calum McSwiggan revealed on his channel that he had taken part in gay webcam porn as a 19-year old. In a deeply personal video, McSwiggan bravely revealed that people would blackmail him with threats of exposing his past. A past which would “come back to haunt (him) every single day”. In fact a porn website did expose McSwiggan’s real name.
McSwiggan spoke to us at Vada saying, “I think it’s absolutely deplorable that a tabloid like The Sun would seek to discredit a medical professional based on their past work in the adult entertainment industry. Not only does it have no bearing on their ability to do their job, it’s also none of anyone’s business. Why they thought they needed to ‘expose’ this person in a national newspaper is beyond me. It’s sickening and utterly despicable what they will do for clicks.”
No media outlet, no person, has a right to out someone because of their sexuality or former career in an industry they deem questionable – yet in The Sun’s case freely promote. It is surely up to that individual who they tell, if anyone at all.
To the nurse, I congratulate you on your achievement in graduating from university. I congratulate you in the work you do for HIV patients. I congratulate you on your job. I will stand with you on your right to privacy, on your right to practice your chosen career freely when this “expose” has shown no impediments to your ability to carry out your role. I stand with you as The Sun seeks to discredit you, all in the name of clicks and selling papers. I hope that the disruption is limited, that you can return to some sense of normality quickly, and that you can return to work in a profession where you are greatly needed.
To The Sun and any other media outlet that seeks to publish these stories, I quite simply say: Grow up! What business is it of yours? What business is it of mine what this nurse did in a previous life? A nurse is not a “public figure”. This is a story that, when I saw it, quite frankly made me sick. I wasn’t concerned for the hospital; I wasn’t concerned for the patients. I am however concerned for this young nurse whose world you have undoubtedly brought crashing down – and for what? This is just one in a long string of editorial misjudgments by The Sun. I would hope they would learn from their mistakes, yet they appear to just keep repeating them. Shame on you!
Update: The Sun has since removed the story from its website with little to no explanation. I hope that they will publish a full apology and do all it can to write the wrong it has thrust upon this nurse at the start of his career.