Alex Blaze

Why isn't Bryce Faulkner speaking for himself?

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 22, 2009 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Arkansas, bryce faulkner, ex-gay, Facebook, Fox News, gay camp, journalism, pink news, save bryce, sky news, The Advocate

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 posted about Bryce's situation earlier, and he'll be posting more about his work on Bryce's situation later.) Here's the boyfriend:

Swanson told PinkNews.co.uk: "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:

brycescreenshot.jpg

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.


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Tim Curran | July 22, 2009 7:23 PM

Based on my comprehensive and continuous scanning of gay-related news, it's obvious to me that NO mainstream reporters (and probably no one else in the media) have spoken to Faulkner's parents. In fact, the Sky News story, which was apparently the upstream source for all other media coverage (not counting bloggers for this purpose), does not even MENTION the parents.

There's a simple reason for that. Accusing them of coercing their son (the claim of Faulkner's friends) is defamatory. There is no 'privilege' (in legal parlance) that lets you say they did so without potentially subjecting yourself to a lawsuit -- especially in the UK, where Sky is headquartered. So unless the parents admit they coerced Bryce, calling them for an interview is just like waving a red cape in front of a bull: lawsuit bait.

In my personal opinion, all the so-called "reporting" that's been done on this story stinks. But it is simply not a "reportable" story, unless you're willing to risk getting sued.

Lawsuits could happen, which makes it all that much more necessary to contact the family and Bryce himself.

Maybe we'll be hearing more in coming days from MSM sources.

Tim Curran | July 22, 2009 7:56 PM

Maybe, but I doubt it. As I said, reporting the accusation of coercion defames the parents; that's whether they deny it or simply refuse to comment. Except in the unlikely event that Bryce's parents admit that the claim is factually true, no corporate media will get anywhere near it, and I include my own company.

(Well, let me modify that. Obviously, by reporting HALF the story, Sky, Fox News, The Telegraph, The Advocate, etc. have already gotten NEAR it. But I don't think they'll get any closer. Pink News just doesn't seem to know any better, or maybe figures the parents wouldn't sue a media company so darn far away.)

Paige Listerud | July 22, 2009 8:22 PM

Has anyone found out where this ex-gay "camp" could be? Is it The Source, run by Love In Action in Memphis, TN? That's where Zach Stark was taken as a teenager in 2005.

CA furrball | July 22, 2009 11:18 PM

Seems like someone ought to find a way to jail the parents until Bryce is brought out of hiding.

Sad to see this in 21st Century America. First an intelligent Ivy League professor gets arrested for trying to get into his own house, just because he is African-American, and now this.

Kinda makes me wonder just WHO is "guarding the hen house"? The wolf? Yeah, probably. And - worse yet - we have yet to silence these types, or better yet, shame them into change. They say they want change so much. Are they willing to change is obviously a resounding "No!", but more horrifically, they also seem incapable of change, themselves.

Sad......

Anthony in Nashville | July 23, 2009 12:34 AM

I'm not sure what to make of Faulkner's situation.

From what I have read in the past, his family found out he was gay before he was ready to tell them, they gave the ultimatum to go to that "camp" or leave the family (and his possessions) behind, and he chose to go.

Am I missing something?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 23, 2009 1:15 AM

Well, for the first time we know his age is 23 not 19. I doubt that "shame" is an option for dealing with the parents in this as they believe (wrongly) that they are saving is immortal soul.

Mrs. Faulkner should be much more concerned about federal kidnapping charges. I hope Travis Swanson and the good Rev. Sullivan are pursuing this avenue. While I maintain what I said before, ("Get out of an abusive situation with just the clothing on your back, but get out!")this is truly about an adult being apparently held against his will. He is caught somewhere between his parents and his nature and that is a rough situation, but I would encourage Mrs. Faulkner to sue so that she has to demonstrate that she is not guilty of kidnapping.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin and openly gay should be able to help and have the jurisdictional resources to tap if the Wisconsin will not take a report as a vulnerable adult on the basis hes is young, gay, without resources, being threatened, half a country away from his exterior support system. They should, for all we know he's broken free from the torture camp and is walking barefoot from Florida to Wisconsin.

I hope they do talk to the guy...I'd love to know why a 23-year-old pre-med student allowed himself to be forced into ex-gay camp.

There is no risk of a libel lawsuit simply for asking a question and reporting the answer or non-answer. It is only libel if you print something that is false as if it were a fact. So asking the parents where he is and reporting that they would not answer creates zero risk of a lawsuit, even in the UK.

Know the Family | July 24, 2009 1:10 AM

I know the family and they'll sue just about anyone or anything....watch out

HealthySkeptic | July 26, 2009 4:56 PM

This story seems bogus. You aren't quoting Bryce's mother. Your quoting Swanson describing what he claims she said. A reporter should be contacting Bryce and Bryce parents to get to the bottom of this. I fear this is a scam or a well-intentioned but misguided effort to draw media to ex-gay brainwashing camps.

I hope I'm wrong because they will have done a dis-service to honest effort to protect minors who are forced (not economically pressured) physically and legally forced to these psychologically damaging re-education camps.

If the tale is true, I hope the best for this 23 year old and his boyfriend. If it isn't shame on them and shame on those covering this story who didn't do the most basic fact and source checking.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 30, 2009 8:52 AM

How do you contact Bryce? He is in his 46th day of disappearance as I write this. There is a website tracking his disappearance listed on the first posting made about Bryce Falkner about a week prior to this one.