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Why isn’t Bryce Faulkner speaking for himself?

There’s an interesting article up now at Pink News about Bryce Faulkner’s parents threatening to sue Bryce’s boyfriend for gathering media attention to the fact that Bryce disappeared to an ex-gay camp and no one even knows if he’s OK since he’s been forced to cut contact with the outside world. (Waymon Hudson posted about Bryce’s situation a few weeks ago. He’s been doing a great job leading the way on this, and if you follow the link you can read more background on this case of a gay pre-med student who was sent by his parents off to a 14-month ex-gay camp, which requires him to have no contact with his friends.) Here’s the boyfriend:

Swanson told “Bryce’s parents both called me and left messages threatening lawsuits and have contacted Rev Harris saying the same thing. They said they want [the website] removed immediately.

“They have been informed that the only way that will happen is if Bryce tells me face to face alone that he wants it down. Mrs Faulkner assures us that will never happen. We told her in that case the site and movement will continue forward stronger than ever.

“She keeps telling us Bryce has known about the site for weeks and has talked to reporters about how silly it is but she refuses to say which publications they belong to. He has not talked to any that I have talked to, which is many from around the world.”

I probably consume more LGBT media than 99% of LGBT people out there through the various part-time and freelance work I do online, so I was a little surprised to read that Bryce’s mother is claiming that he’s talked to “reporters.” Which ones? I haven’t read a thing about what he thinks, and I’m sure I would have remembered that.

Now, I’ll grant the possibility that he was interviewed last week for stories due out later this week (although that seems like an awful long time to be working on a time-sensitive new item), but here’s the legacy media coverage that I’ve been able to find so far.

Fox News covered Bryce’s story, but was taken down yesterday morning. It’s still appearing in their website’s search function:

And The Advocate linked to that article, and Fox News linked to a Sky News article. The Telegraph also discussed that Sky News article. Pink News has been covering Bryce’s situation as well.

Sky News is a UK Rupert Murdoch publication, like Fox News. The Telegraph and the Advocate ran shorter articles using information reported in Sky and Fox, and neither of those two news agencies attempted to contact Bryce. Or at least they didn’t mention it in their articles on the topic. (The Fox News article is down, and, according to Julie Bolcer at the Advocate, it was taken off-line early yesterday afternoon. I don’t, nor does the Bilerico reader who emailed me the link to that article, nor does Bolcer, remember the article quoting Bryce.) Pink News didn’t get a quotation from Bryce, his family, and didn’t state that they tried.

To non-journalist me, Bryce seems like the person to contact in a story where someone alleges that he’s been shipped off to an ex-gay camp. Call him up. Get a comment from him. See if he hates where he is or if the people who are speaking on his behalf are full of bullshit. Something.

Now, what seems likely is that Sky and Fox weren’t able to get into contact with him. And, normally, if a source is integral to a story but can’t be contacted before publication time, a news source will add a “X did not respond to requests for comment before publication.” It lets people know they did their homework and puts the blame on someone else.

But if they tried to get contact information from him and his parents refused to provide it, it merits a mention in the article itself, something along the lines of “Bryce Faulkner did not respond to requests for comment because he was shipped off to an ex-gay camp and forced to cut off contact with the outside world.” Something like that.

Because part of the story is the fact that no one has been able to contact Bryce. If they were able to get into contact with him, even if he didn’t say anything interesting, that’s part of the story. The Advocate and the Telegraph, which gave short blurbs on the situation with information from Sky and Fox, are off the hook, but Sky, Fox, and Pink News should have tried to contact him. If a big publication wrote a story about me without even trying to interview me, I’d be horrified. He should have some right to respond here.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Bryce’s mother was lying when she said Bryce was talking to “reporters.” Which, again, adds to a story where the central component is someone being shipped off to a cult-like program that requires people to cut off contact with their emotional support networks so that they can be rebuilt. Considering the history of abuse at these programs, and the fact that there’s no evidence that they do anything other than traumatize the people who go there to “cure” themselves of homosexuality, it’s logical that they would cut people off from the outside world. It’s easier to break someone that way.

That silence should be front-and-center in any story about Bryce Faulkner. I’m uneasy about gays speaking for other gays in situations where they can speak for themselves, and Bryce’s parents have implied that he can. If they’re right, and he is safe and he wants to be there and he thinks the internet campaign on his behalf is silly, then he should be able to tell journalists to back off himself.

More info can be found at the Facebook page set up to help Bryce.

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Alex Blaze

Alex Blaze