Star-Telegram sneaks homophobia into headline about illegal locker room photo

Posted on 24 May 2010 at 11:05am

photographerEach day I check Google News for headlines in Fort Worth, where I live, and for LGBT news from around the world. Today, a headline in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram immediately caught my attention: “Fort Worth hairstylist gets probation for photographing man in locker room.”

The story, posted today on the newspaper’s website, explains that Eric Lee Kilgore, 35, of Fort Worth pleaded guilty last week to “a charge of improper photography,” and was sentenced to one year of probation after taking a photograph last September of “an unsuspecting man” getting dressed in the locker room of a gym in Colleyville.

Apparently, Kilgore was in the locker room at the gym, and saw a naked man who caught his eye. As the man was getting dressed, Kilgore surreptitiously pointed his camera at a mirror that was reflecting the naked man’s image and snapped the photo. Kilgore told authorities he didn’t know the man in the photo, and that the man had no idea he was being photographed.

Ordinarily, I would assume, no one would have known about the photo. But then Kilgore apparently dropped his camera. Another man and his son found it and turned it in to employees at the gym, who then looked through the images to find out who it belonged to. That’s when they found the picture from the locker room and called police.

The Star-Telegram says Kilgore could have been sentenced to up to two years in jail.

Now, I really don’t like the idea of people snapping sneaky photos of other people in locker rooms or dressing rooms. I consider that a gross invasion of privacy. And depending on whom they are taking photos of, it could get into some real sticky areas (like, for instance, if it happens to be someone who is underage).

But my problem with this story is The Star-Telegram’s choice of headlines.

Was it necessary to point out in the headline that Kilgore is a hairstylist? I mean, is his occupation really that integral to the story that it should be included in the headline? As my co-worker John Wright said, if he were a plumber, would they have put that in the headline?

I don’t think so. I think including “hairstylist” in the headline — in the story at all, for that matter — is a kind of subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) homophobia, an effort to play into stereotypes about gay men. I mean, we all know that all gay men are limp-wristed, lisping hairstylists or florists, right? So by including that in the headline, The S-T was making it a point to tell everyone that the person was a gay man and using that to play on another stereotype, the idea that all gay men are sexual predators lusting after — and likely to try and molest — all straight men.

So I’m calling this headline a major fail on the part of The S-T. What do you think?

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