Rebel Wilson has addressed fans’ outrage after an Australian newspaper revealed its plans to seemingly out her. But first, here’s a reminder of how we got here.
In May, Rebel said she was “happily in a relationship,” revealing that she and her new partner were set up by a mutual friend. At the time, the actor did not share any details about the identity of her partner, nor did she respond to Page Six’s request for comment on the matter.
Fast forward to last Thursday, and Rebel shared on Instagram an adorable photograph of herself and her girlfriend, Ramona Agruma, writing: “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince…but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney princess … #loveislove.”
If you follow Rebel, you’ll know that this wasn’t the first time that Ramona had appeared on her Instagram page. Not only that, but the duo also took to the red carpet at Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty together back in March.
However, until her post on Thursday, it wasn’t public knowledge that the two were in a relationship, with reports suggesting just months prior that Rebel may have been dating a fellow Aussie, tennis player Matt Reid.
With all this in mind, plus the added context of Rebel’s Instagram caption, most fans were quick to interpret the post as her official coming out.
But, the following day, as fans were happily celebrating Rebel’s sweet post, the Sydney Morning Herald published a since-deleted article in which it claimed to have known about the relationship between Rebel and Ramona long before it was confirmed.
And not only that, the newspaper also wrote that it had reached out to Rebel on Thursday, and it had given her “two days to comment on her new relationship” before publishing a story on it.
The writer of the piece, celebrity reporter Andrew Hornery, then said that reaching out to Rebel had been a “big mistake,” suggesting that it gave her the freedom to quash his hopes of a story.
“Wilson opted to gazump the story, posting about her new ‘Disney Princess’ on Instagram early Friday morning,” Hornery wrote. “The same platform she had previously used to brag about her handsome ex-boyfriend, wealthy American beer baron Jacob Busch.”
He also brought up Rebel’s successful defamation lawsuit against Women’s Day, which wrongfully branded the actor as a liar. The writer used this suit to argue that Rebel’s decision not to respond to his publication's “discreet, genuine and honest queries” was “underwhelming,” given how “bitterly she complained about poor journalism standards” in her legal battle with the magazine.
And if fans weren’t confused enough, the post then appeared to undermine the historic issue of anti-LGBTQ bigotry within showbusiness, writing of Rebel: “At age 42 and in an era when same-sex marriage is legal in many parts of the world and — thanks to decades of battling for equality — sexual orientation is no longer something to be hidden, even in Hollywood.”
Readers across social media were quick to express their shock and outrage, with many accusing the publication of attempting to out Rebel.
“I’ve just read this @smh piece 3 times to make sure that I wasn’t misreading,” journalist Megha Mohan tweeted. “The publication messaged Rebel Wilson saying they would out her in 2 days — and is now complaining that she chose to announce her relationship with a woman herself. Quite astonishing.”
Others speculated about the possibility that Rebel had been pressured into sharing her Instagram post last week over fears of being “forcefully outed” by the publication.
What’s more, plenty highlighted the sad irony that this is taking place during Pride Month.
In the wake of the immense backlash, the Sydney Morning Herald initially denied accusations that it had pressured Rebel, instead claiming that it “simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.”
This only prompted further widespread criticism, and the outlet later issued a full apology, in which Hornery admitted that the publication had “mishandled steps” in its reporting.
“It is not the Herald’s business to ‘out’ people and that is not what we set out to do. But I understand why my email has been seen as a threat,” he wrote. “The framing of it was a mistake.”
Hornery also said that “as a gay man” himself, he is “well aware of how deeply discrimination hurts,” adding that he would never wish to “inflict that pain on someone else.” The piece has since been removed from the Sydney Morning Herald’s webpage.
Now, after remaining silent on the matter, Rebel has spoken out for the first time.
In response to one journalist who tweeted their shock and disgust at the publication’s actions, Rebel implied that though she’s finding the situation difficult, she’s taking the high route.
“Thanks for your comments,” she wrote in response on Sunday. “It was a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace.”
Rebel also liked a ton of supportive tweets from fans, many of whom called out the Sydney Morning Herald while praising Rebel for her handling of the situation.