When to Say Chris Hughes Is Gay

The recent coverage of Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, taking a majority stake of The New Republic has had varying degrees of gayness.

LGBT media, not surprisingly, was rather direct about mentioning Hughes is gay. “Gay Facebook Founder Chris Hughes Buys ‘The New Republic'” was the hed at Towleroad. “Chris Hughes, Out Gay Facebook Co-Founder and Former Obama Staffer, Buys The New Republic” was the hed at MetroWeekly.

Neither The New York Times nor The Washington Post mentioned that Hughes was gay. Both The Huffington Post and The New Yorker did mention Hughes was gay. The difference was varying degrees of context.

From the Times:

Mr. Hughes, who was a roommate of Mark Zuckerberg’s at Harvard and who ran publicity for Facebook at its outset, quit the company in 2007 and joined Mr. Obama’s campaign, where he ran a social network for the candidate’s supporters. He later founded Jumo, an online hub for charities, which merged less than a year later with GOOD, a publishing company that promotes social action.

Mr. Hughes said he would continue to advise GOOD, but The New Republic would be his priority. He will continue to reside in the Hudson River Valley of New York but will visit the magazine’s office in Washington often.

From the Post:

A 2006 graduate of Harvard University, Hughes was among the group of college classmates who started Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg, Hughes’s roommate, in 2003. Forbes has estimated Hughes’s net worth at $700 million, but that was before Facebook filed this year to offer its first shares to the public.

Hughes left Facebook in 2007 to serve as social-media director for Obama’s campaign, organizing an effort that raised record amounts of money.

From HuffPo:

Hughes is worth hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to his days at Facebook. He was also a key player in President Obama’s online organizing efforts in 2008. More recently, Hughes, who is openly gay, has become involved in the fight for same-sex marriage along with his partner Sean Eldridge, political director for the group Freedom To Marry.

From The New Yorker:

Hughes appears to be a certified liberal, much to the relief of most of the magazine’s staff, alumni, and readers. Though he has been involved in some forms of activism—he ran the social media operation for the 2008 Obama campaign, and his significant other, Sean Eldridge, is the former political director of the same-sex marriage advocacy group Freedom To Marry—his comments on the direction of the magazine have been non-ideological, heavier on tech-world jargon than political talking points.

These excerpts are the extent of his personal life included in these articles. Notice that HuffPo and The New Yorker brought up his connection to same-sex marriage advocacy, which opened the door to mentioning Hughes is gay.

I’m totally down with how each of these mainstream media outlets handled the “When to say?” gay disclosure thing. Sexual orientation isn’t relevant until it is. HuffPo makes it over the line by including his same-sex marriage connection, but The New Yorker does the better job (although their use of “significant other” irks me a bit) by providing more context.

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