A radio host in New Zealand was sent into a fit of nervous laughter after his cohost accidentally outed him during a live news discussion.
Ryan Bridge, who serves as a fill-in host for TV simulcast morning news program The AM Show, was in the middle of completing a segment about sports collectors’ items when co-host Amanda Gillies asked whether or not he had a collection of any kind. That’s when Mark Richardson, an AM Show co-host and former cricket player, got carried away with a quip about Bridge’s personal life before he could respond.
“Ex-boyfriends,” Richardson joked.
Bridge stammered through the remainder of the segment and noted he didn’t have a collection while trying to brush aside the Richardson’s remark. But with the cat already out of the bag, he decided to just go with it.
“Yes, it's true, I'm gay,” he said before a break. “There we go — it's out there.”
Eventually, during the broadcast, Bridge made a more formal address regarding his sexual orientation, making it clear he isn’t ashamed of being gay but had opted to keep his personal life private.
“If you caught what was said before, it’s not something I've tried to hide,” Bridge said. “It's something my friends and family have known about for a very long time. The reason I haven't chosen to share it with you at home, with listeners on my radio show is just that, I don't know, it's just not that interesting, is it?”
“It's not something I've really bothered or care to share with the world or with you at home,” he added, “but it's out there, so that is that.”
Bridge also thanked people for their “heartening” outreach to him in the moments after he was outed on air and defended his co-host, saying Richardson made an “innocent, honest mistake” that wasn’t at all mean-spirited.
Even so, Richardson took the moment to apologize and reaffirm his respect for his colleague.
“In three years of doing this job, this is as bad as I've ever felt,” he said. “I say a lot of stuff on this show, and I mean it, and some of it walks the line. I just want to say I'm sorry because I know how you feel about this. It's because obviously I love you so much as a person… Just me being a smartass and trying to poke fun at you for a comedic moment on the show has led to this, and I'm dreadfully sorry.”
Outing is often not a laughing matter and can prove dangerous depending upon an LGBTQ+ person’s home situation, employment, mental health, level of family support, and likelihood of physical harm they may encounter where they live. As Out noted last month, 16-year-old Channing Smith died by suicide after a high school classmate in Tennessee outed him online by posting screenshots of explicit texts between him and another boy.